The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) and Western Illinois University have signed a resolution agreement following a complaint filed with the OCR alleging Title IX violations by the University's Intercollegiate Athletics Program.This is the sort of announcement that the College Sports Council (CSC) has been expecting for many years. Needless to say CSC welcomes it. A couple of points:
The complaint alleged that the University does not effectively accommodate the athletic interests and abilities of members of both sexes and did not provide equitable publicity for men's and women's athletics. According to
WIU Attorney Heidi Benson, the agreement with OCR states that the University strongly denies the allegations of the complaint and agrees to resolve the complaint by providing information that illustrates Title IX compliance.
Benson noted that the University has already taken steps that address components of the agreement relating to the OCR's "three part test." The University recently completed a survey in which all of Western's 10,000-plus undergraduate students were asked their interest in participating and ability to participate in a variety of sports that are considered by Title IX as "core" or "emerging." Cathy Couza, director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access and Title IX coordinator at Western, noted the survey is being used to assess the level of interest and ability in sports that may not be offered at WIU. The survey was based on the model survey that was recommended by the OCR, Couza added.
The University will tabulate the data from this survey, and the University will submit the results of the survey to the OCR by April 1, 2009, then it will use the data to formulate a plan, which will be submitted to the OCR for approval, to illustrate how the University is accommodating the interests and abilities of female and male students in the University's Intercollegiate Athletics Program.
CSC applauds WIU for having the courage to include students as the primary deciding voice in what sports the school provides.
That idea -- that student interest should be the guide -- is really what the whole spirit of the Title IX in athletic is all about. It's really a stark contrast with how other schools prove compliance. The fact remains that too many school are in the headlock grip of educrats -- whether it be the Department of Education, a school's athletic department, the NCAA or trial lawyers who favor proportionality and no other solution. That means students never get a voice.
As the situation clearly illustrates, the OCR is going to work with WIU and let the school comply using the survey. This is a clear example to schools all over the country that they can do the same, and there's no reason why any school should not follow suit.
We also can't help but notice that WIU surveyed all 10,000 students. That's a great thing, as both men and women deserve a voice in athletic participation. Bravo to WIU for courage on T9 reform. If sports were scored on guts alone, they'd be national champions.