The 40th Anniversary of Title IX’s enactment into law will be June 23, 2012. The law has been hugely beneficial for society, yet several myths remain prevalent. Kate Fagan and Luke Cyphers effectively address five of those myths in a recent ESPN article.

Here’s an important fact: Since the law’s inception, BOTH male and female participation in college sports has increased. And another one: In three major polls, about 80 percent of Americans surveyed say they want Title IX left alone or strengthened. So, in short, Title IX is working. It’s increased equal opportunity in education in general, and school sports in particular, for both genders — although a gender gap still exists in favor of males — and the vast majority of Americans like the law.

Perhaps the biggest myth surrounding Title IX is that the law forces schools to cut men’s sports. That simply isn’t true. According to 2011 NCAA data, the number of male student-athletes has grown from 214,464 in 2002 to 252,946 in 2011. That’s an increase of 38,482. During the same timeframe, female student-athletes increased from 158,469 to 191,131, a jump of 32,662.

It’s true that non-revenue men’s sports such as wrestling, swimming and tennis have been cut since Title IX’s enactment but that’s due primarily to the huge emphasis on football and men’s basketball at NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools. At these universities, football and basketball account for 78 percent of men’s sports budgets (contrast that to NCAA Division III where those two sports account for only 41 percent of men’s sports budgets). Despite all the rhetoric, it’s the desire to keep feeding the big-time sports pig (football and men’s basketball) that’s crowding out non-revenue men’s sports, not the need to fund women’s sports due to Title IX.

As Fagan and Cyphers point out in their ESPN analysis, “administrators have found it more convenient to blame Title IX than football or men’s basketball for cuts to non-revenue men’s programs.” The truth is there’s still a huge gap between budgets for men’s athletics programs and women’s athletics programs at FBS Division I schools. At these universities, the median amount spent on men’s programs was $20,416,000 in 2010, while only $8,006,000 was spent on women’s programs.

Perhaps the biggest myth connected to Title IX is that men’s programs make money and women’s programs lose money. The fact is fewer than seven percent of Division I athletic departments operate in the black, according to a 2010 NCAA study. Moreover, barely half of FBS football and basketball programs make enough revenue to cover their expenses.

Bottom line, Title IX doesn’t care which sports programs might be the most popular commercially. It’s about providing equal opportunity in the educational setting. And that’s the way it should be. And why Title IX is a good law.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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