College Sports Council Charges GAO with Accounting Ethics Violations for Manipulating Title IX Stats

WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 5. RECENTLY, the College Sports Council (CSC) filed suit in federal court against the Government Accountability Office (GAO), charging the Comptroller General David M. Walker, and a GAO staffer named Marnie S. Shaul with continued violations of standard accounting ethics and practices. CSC calls upon Comptroller Walker to acknowledge the GAO's errors and correct them.

"We have given the GAO ample notice to correct this flawed report, so we have no choice but to push forward with our suit," said Eric Pearson, CSC Executive Director.

Letters between CSC and Comptroller General Walker establish that he has known since October 2003 that GAO reports did not correctly account for the decreases in men's teams under the controversial Title IX enforcement policy challenged by CSC.

In its filing, CSC charges collusion between GAO and the Clinton-era Department of Education. Evidence for this charge can be found in a 1999 letter to Dr. Shaul, in which former Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Norma Cantu candidly acknowledges her desire to rebut the widely held view that Title IX is responsible for the decline in the number of men's sports opportunities. The correspondence between Assistant Secretary Cantu and Dr. Shaul show that the GAO simply reproduced the Department of Education's misinformation in its entirety. Ethical standards prohibit accountants from subordinating their independent judgment – in this case, to the Department of Education – and require them independently to confirm evidence.

The suit, CSC v. GAO, No. 03-1911-RBW, challenges a 2001 GAO report for failing to accurately assess the impact of Title IX enforcement policies on collegiate and scholastic athletics. The Higher Education Amendments of 1998 required the Comptroller General to conduct a 20-year study and report on the aggregate increases and decreases in men's and women's athletic teams and participation at the college, junior-college, and high-school levels.

The GAO report also fails to discuss the budgetary impact of "capping," a common Title IX compliance strategy in which school administrators create a sports quota by enforcing squad-size limits only for men's teams in order to comply with the Department of Education's proportionality requirement.

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