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California to Determine if State Schools Comply with Title IX -- October 6, 2002

SACRAMENTO, CA., October 5. WITH the debate about the interpretation and implementation of Title IX raging
-- and with the Collegiate Wrestling Coaches' Assn. having filed suit in federal court against the Department of Education, alleging the way the program is currently implemented is unconstitutional -- the Golden State has now entered the fray.

California Gov. Gray Davis has signed a measure that requires the state to "determine if California schools and universities are complying" with Title IX. This is the measure that, in general terms, requires equal opportunity for all students -- male and female -- to participate in all school-sponsored activities.

Since Title IX's inception 30 years ago, the growth and participation of women in high school and collegiate sports has been unprecedented. However, Title IX critics maintain the measure as currently interpreted has resulted in the elimination of innumerable sports programs while favoring women over men in terms of funding and participatory pportunities.

The California law, authoreded by Assemblywoman Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach), was signed by the governor just before the deadline on Sept. 30.

Oropeza's bill requires an independent evaluator to study whether women's and men's programs receive equal facilities, travel budgets and coaching salaries, among other concerns. Both seventh through 12th grade and state college/university programs will be studied by the evaluator, who has yet to be named.

All universities are reqired to report data concerning their compliance with Title IX to the DOE, but Oropeza's bill will require post-secondary schools
to release more information.

"When we looked to see if Title IX was being properly implemented, we really couldn't tell," an aide to the Assemblywoman said. "The legislature needs some kind of accurate look at Title IX."

The University of California is neutral on the bill, UC spokesman Bill Rivas said.

The wrestling coaches' suit against the education department alleges that enforcement of Title IX as presently implemented unfairly harms certain men's athletic programs. The suit further alleges that current enforcement of Title IX results in a gender quota that, in turn, has resulted in the elimination of numerous men's non-revenue sports programs, e.g., swimming, wrestling, gymnastics, track and field, baseball, golf and others.

"No other place in society is held to this standard," said Mike Moyer, executive director of the National Wrestling Coaches' Assn.

Arguments on the suit were heard earlier this week in federal court.

The Oropeza bill cites studies indicating that inequalities still exist in California, where 58.7 percent of interscholastic students are male while a
majority of the student body population is female.

The NWCA suit against the DOE is the first of its kind. Previously, universities were sued (all unsuccessfully so far) when men's athletic programs were eliminated on the basis of Title IX, i.e., gender-equity.

With the renewed debate over Title IX, President Bush created a 15-member commission in June to study its effects. The commission -- comprised mostly of advocates for women's sports -- is supposed to make recommendations on how to strengthen enforcement of Title IX in January.

Not surprisngly, the National Women's Law Center believes the commission is unnecessary and that changes do not need to be made to Title IX. NWLC senior counsel Neena Chaudhry said she is
"unconcerned" about the wrestling coaches' suit as "federal appellate courts have in the past
rejected arguments that Title IX requires quotas."