College Sports Council Sues GAO Over Inaccurate Title IX Report

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 16. THE College Sports Council (CSC) filed suit in federal court last Friday against the General Accounting Office (GAO), the Comptroller General David M. Walker, and a GAO staffer named Marnie S. Shaul.

The suit challenges a 2001 GAO study, cited in the final report of the Commission on Opportunity in Athletics, on the grounds that it failed to accurately assess the impact of Title IX enforcement on college and scholastic athletics.

The GAO report claims that men's opportunities increased by 36 teams between 1981 and 1998, but ignores the increase of 134 schools in its survey population between 1981 and 1998.

The GAO report also fails to count women's teams that existed in 1981, but were not members of either the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) or the National Intercollegiate Athletic Association (NAIA). In 1981, the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) had more than 900 member schools. AIAW disbanded in 1983, after the NCAA and NAIA began to sponsor women's sports.

"By ignoring thousands of pre-existing men's and women's athletic teams, the GAO grossly understated men's losses and overstated women's gains in the 1980's and 1990's," says Eric Pearson, CSC's Executive Director. "We support the continued growth of athletic opportunities for women and girls, but we cannot accept Dr. Shaul's continued denial that Title IX enforcement has led to the arbitrary elimination of thousands of athletic opportunities and programs at schools across the nation."

"Interestingly, Comptroller General Walker is an alumnus of Arthur Anderson," commented Leo Kocher, President of the CSC, "which provides an object lesson of what not to do when a subordinate produces fraudulent reports." Arthur Anderson went out of business as a result of its Houston Office's involvement with Enron's accounting practices. "Just like those recent corporate accounting scandals, the GAO report masks persistent, significant losses with false gains from mergers," added Kocher.

The GAO report fails to discuss the budgetary impact of "capping," a common Title IX strategy in which schools set artificially low squad-size limits for men's teams to comply with the Department of Education's quota on participation. By ignoring Congress's directive to quantify the negligible or nonexistent budgetary benefits of capping, the GAO report allows the gender-quota advocates to continue to say that budgets, not Title IX, cause the loss of men's athletic opportunities.

Although a GAO employee, the report's author, Dr. Shaul, has worked closely with gender-quota advocates such as the Women's Sports Foundation and repeatedly has testified that men's opportunities increased during the 1980s and 1990s.

"The fraudulent GAO report should be withdrawn and a new one prepared as Congress originally intended," added Pearson. "And the letter of the law should be upheld."

Following the Administration's refusal to accept the recommendations of the Commission on Opportunity in Athletics, the College Sports Council (CSC) — a coalition of coaches, alumni, parents and athletes — on August 15 launched a new lawsuit against the Secretary of Education to repeal its Title IX enforcement policies.

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