Historically Black Colleges Are Not in Compliance With Title IX, Study Finds

Chronicle of Higher Education, February 27, 2008

A study by an advocacy group for men’s sports has concluded that athletics departments at most historically black colleges and universities are out of compliance with Title IX, the federal gender-equity law, and that the law’s requirements prevent those colleges from luring more male students.

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Title IX’s proportionality requirement calls for the ratios of male and female athletes to be similar to the overall male and female undergraduate population. The study cites data from the U.S. Department of Education showing that enrollment at historically black colleges and universities is 61 percent female.

Wade Hughes, former head coach of the wrestling team at Howard University, a program that was terminated in 2002, said in a statement that this “proportionality” requirement was preventing historically black institutions from adding more men’s sports teams that could, in turn, attract more male students.

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[Editor’s Note: Supporting documents for the College Sports Council’s study on HBCUs can be accessed here. Formats are Excel spread sheet and Power Point pie chart.]


WASHINGTON, D.C.—A study released today by the College Sports Council shows that, due to their student gender ratio approaching 2-1 female to male, nearly all of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are out of compliance with Title IX_s proportionality standard. According to the study:

* 73% of the nation’s 75 HBCUs that are co-educational and have athletic programs were out of compliance with the strict proportionality standard.

* 30 of the schools out of compliance would have received an “F” from the Women’s Sports Foundation in their latest report card on gender equity in college athletics.

* 43 schools, though they didn’t get an “F”, are still vulnerable to lengthy and expensive litigation.

* Only 2 schools (Allen University, Morris College) were in compliance.

Among the schools that received a failing grade are nationally known athletic programs like Florida A&M University, Howard University, Jackson State University and Southern University. In order to comply with the strict proportionality standard, the gender ratio of a school_s undergraduate student enrollment must mirror the gender ratio of the total number of athletes on its varsity sports. For example, in order for Howard University to be in compliance with the strict proportionality standard—within 1% of enrollment—it would need to eliminate 82 male roster slots.

According to data provided by the Department of Education for 2007, enrollment at HBCUs referenced in this study is 61% female. Institutions that use student surveys to demonstrate they have met the interest and abilities prong for Title IX compliance can add male teams, but the NCAA has strongly discouraged the use of surveys.

“The purpose of this study is to show that schools like the HBCUs that want to attract more male students run into a virtual roadblock when it comes to complying with Title IX_s proportionality standard,” said Eric Pearson, Chairman of the CSC. “The CSC calls on the NCAA to support HBCUs_ use of surveys to comply with Title IX. HBCUs need the flexibility that surveys offer, if they want to use sports to increase male enrollment,” Pearson said.

“Currently, HBCUs are struggling to increase male enrollment, and offering varsity athletic programs is one practical tool a college or university has to increase the number of male students on campus, ” said Wade Hughes, who was head coach of Howard University’s wrestling team when the program was terminated back in 2002 along with the baseball team. “At the time the wrestling and baseball teams were eliminated at Howard, the university was out of compliance with proportionality. Now here we are again, five years later, they_ve added bowling as a varsity sport for women and the university has still not achieved proportionality.”

“Many HBCUs are struggling financially. Adding sports teams for male athletes will not only attract more students to their campuses, but help to achieve a more balanced undergraduate student gender ratio,” added Hughes. ” If these schools are forced to comply with Title IX_s proportionality test, then adding sports teams to attract more male students is not an option.”

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