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Women’s opportunities for competitive sports had been very limited in the United States until a federal law, popularly referred to as Title IX, was signed into law. Title IX, a groundbreaking law that aimed at ending the sex discrimination in education, became a law in June 1972. President Richard M. Nixon signed it into law. The law required the American society to recognize the right of women to participate in sports equally to their male counterparts. Whereas the relationship between Title IX and increased opportunities for girls and women in athletics is well known, the link between this law and improvements in key areas, including higher education, employment, learning environment, career education, and treatment and parenting of teens are often not recognized. However, the enactment of Title IX was revolutionary and offered a landmark in the education of the girl-child. According to Brake (2001), Title IX offered several opportunities, not only in sports, but also in career, treatment, parenting, and higher education. In this regard, this paper studies the history of Title IX, which includes both the pre- and post-enactment times.

History of Title IX

Pre-Title IX


Summary of Historical event

Prior to 1870

Women sports had a form of the play activities. The sports were not competitive, lacked rules and emphasized on physical strength. Women were discriminated in activities such as horseback riding, for example (Brake, 2010).


The first material concerning the opportunities for women was published. Edward Clarke published Sex in Education, or A Fair Chance for Girls. This work sparked acrimonious and tenacious debate on women’s abilities in physical activities. In this very year, science was also manipulated to reinforce the establishment of dogma. Because of this, women sought to be enrolled in physical activities.


Introduction of basketball at Smith college. Basketball quickly became popular in other colleges, and the women students began clamoring for intercollegiate play. Women physical educations opposed intercollegiate play since they were not ready to lose control over other programs (Cohen, 2005).

Late 1800s

Women began forming formal athletic clubs. Croquet, tennis, archery, and bowling were popular in clubs from New York to New Orleans. Several men’s clubs allowed women to become their members and participate in separate physical activities. However, the women were not accorded full status. The first intercollegiate competition among women was the tennis tournament (Fiore, 2009).

Early 1900s

The Committee on Women’s Athletic (CWA) and the American Physical Education Association (APEA) were formed to endorse programs of wide participation for women. Competitive physical activities continued increasing in number. Parallel clubs in colleges started emerging.

1920s – 1930s

The nature of university and college competition conflicted with the philosophy of physical women educators. The conflicts contributed to the lack of support for the university athletics. Another significant event was the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920.The first feminist movement brought modest gains for women in intercollegiate sports competition (Galemore, 2003).

Early 1940s

This period brought war to the US, and many men entered the military. As a result, many women joined the military or left their positions as homemakers to fill the void in the labor market. This propelled the movement for equal rights as women believed they could compete in the labor market, as well as in athletics.


The establishment of the All-American Girls Baseball League was an attempt to replace the Major League Baseball that was closed due to the war (Hueben, 2003).

1950 -1960s

The social American conscience seemed to be changing. The emphasis for Civil Rights that concluded in the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 helped improve the status of minorities and women. Another wave of feminist activism emerged. The debate for Equal Rights Amendment gained popularity in the US.


The Division for Girls and Women in Sport (DGWS) was amended to state that intercollegiate programs might exist. The DGWS perception of women evolved further to state that the intercollegiate programs for women were desirable (Fiore, 2009).


The Commission on Intercollegiate Sports for Women (CISW) was appointed to assist in conducting intercollegiate competitions (Fiore, 2009).


CISW was renamed to Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (CIAW). The participation of women in sports was quickly gaining its status on an equality with the men’s sports.


The first schedule of the national championship for women was announced, and it included the track, field, and gymnastic activities.


Swimming, volleyball, basketball and badminton were included in the championship schedule (Brake, 2010).


The Association for Intercollegiate for Women (AIAW) that replaced CIAW broke a new ground for the fight to control women’s athletics in the 1970s.

Post-Title IX

June 23, 1972

The Congress enacted Title IX of the Education Amendment. President Richard Nixon signed it into law. The sponsors of Title IX were Birch Bayh, from the Senate, and Edith Green, from the House of Representatives. Title IX criminalized the discrimination in any education activity or program that received any form of federal financial aid (Cohen, 2005). This included sports.

May 20, 1974

Senator Tower suggested the Tower Amendment that would excuse the revenue-producing athletics from the determinations of Title IX compliance. This amendment was rejected.

July 1974

Senator Javits submitted an amendment that directed HEW to issue regulations, which offered reasonable provisions considering the nature of each particular sport. Javits Amendment, which was an alternative to the Tower Amendment, was passed (Brake, 2010).

May 27, 1975

President Ford signed the Title IX rules and submitted them to the Congress for review, pursuant to Section 431 (d) (1) of the General Education Act.

June 1975

Representative O’Hara introduced House Bill 1834. This bill suggested that revenues from sports should be used first for covering the cost of that sport, and only then for supporting other sports. This amendment would effectively change the coverage of Title IX in athletics. According to Brake (2010), this bill died in the committee before reaching the floor of the House.

July 21, 1975

The Congress reviewed and approved Title IX regulations and rejected some advanced resolutions in order to disapprove the athletics regulations.

February 17, 1976

The NCAA challenged the legitimacy of Title IX.

July 15, 1977

Senators Bartlett, Hruska, and Tower introduced Senate Bill (S. 2106). This Bill suggested the exclusion of the revenue-generating sports from the coverage of Title IX. This Bill also died in the committee before reaching the floor of the Senate (Brake D. , 2010).


The HEW issued the proposed policy that was titled “Title IX and Intercollegiate Athletics.” This issuance was issued for notice and comment.

July 21, 1978

The deadline for colleges and high schools to conform to Title IX athletics requirements was passed.

December 11, 1979

HEW issued the final interpretation of the policy on Title IX and Intercollegiate Athletics. Instead of depending exclusively on the assumption of the compliance standard, the final interpretation of the policy focused on the obligation of each institution to offer equal opportunities and details to be considered in reviewing actual compliance.


The Department of Education was formed and given the oversight Title IX via the Office for the Civil Rights (OCR) (Galemore, 2003).

February 28, 1984

Grove City v. Bell limited level of Title IX that effectively took away the coverage of athletics except for athletic scholarships. In the above court case, the US Supreme Court concluded that Title IX applied only to specific programs, receiving federal finances. Under the court’s interpretation, athletic departments were not to be essentially covered.

March 22, 1988

The 1987 Civil Rights Act was enacted into law over the veto of the President Ronald Reagan. This act reversed Grove City and restored the institution-wide coverage of Title IX. According to Fiore (2009), if any activity or program in an educational institution received federal funds, all the activities and programs of that institution had to conform to Title IX.

September 6, 1988

The court case Haffer v. Temple University Title IX athletics won by the female plaintiff giving new direction to the athletic department concerning their scholarships, budgets, and rates of participation of female and male students (United States Department of Justice, 2012).

April 2, 1990

The Office for Civil Rights issued Title IX Athletic Investigators Manual authored by Lamar Daniel and Valeru M. Bonnette.

February 26, 1992

The Supreme Court ruled that monetary damages are available under Title IX in Franklin v. Gwinnett County Public Schools. Only injunctive relief was available previously. The ruling implied that the institution would be enjoined from any discrimination in the future (United States Department of Justice, 2012).


After the decision of Franklin v. Gwinnett, the NCAA published and completed a landmark Gender-Equity study of its member institutions.


Representative Collins and Senator Mosley-Braun sponsored the Equity Athletics Disclosures Act (EADA) that required any co-educational institution of higher education participating in any federal student aid program and sponsoring any intercollegiate athletic programs to disclose certain information about its intercollegiate athletics program. Under the EADA, yearly reports are necessary (Cohen, 2005).

January 16, 1996

The OCR issued a clarification of the 3-part Effective Accommodation Test. According to the United States Department of Justice (2012), this clarification reiterated the requirements of the policy interpretation that institutions might select any of the 3 independent tests in demonstrating that they were efficiently accommodating the needs of participation of the under-represented gender.

October 1, 1996

All the higher learning institutions availed specific information concerning their intercollegiate athletics department, as demanded by the EADA.

November 21, 1996

The Federal Appeals could uphold the ruling in Cohen v. Brown University by the lower court. The Federal Court maintained that it did not infringe Title IX since women were less interested in athletics than men were. Both the Court of Appeals and District Court rejected Brown University’s argument. Several arguments by the University were similar to those depending upon the universities and colleges all over the country.

June 23, 1997

25th anniversary of the passage of Title IX (Fiore, 2009).

February 20, 2001

The US Supreme Court issued a decision that considered a high school athletic association as a state actor; therefore, it was a subject to the Constitution in Brentwood v. Tennessee Secondary Athletic Association. According to Heckman (2003), this implies that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment applies to athletic associations in gender equity suits.

December 17, 2001

The court rules on Communities for Equity v. Michigan High School Athletic Association. The court held that the state athletic association was liable under Title IX, Michigan State law, and the Equal Protection Clause for discrimination against girls by forcing six girls-athletics, but no boys-athletics team to compete in the nontraditional or disadvantageous seasons.

February 2002

The College Gymnastics Association, the US Track Coaches, and the National Wrestling Coaches Association, along with other groups that represented male athletes and alumni of wrestling programs and Yale, Marquette, and Bucknell filed a court case alleging that Title IX policies and regulations were unconstitutional (Brake, 2010).

May 29, 2002

The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed another motion aiming at dismissing, on narrow procedural grounds, a grievance filed in federal court against the Department of Education attacking the 3-prong test designed for schools in order to determine their adherence to Title IX in women athletic programs.

June 23, 2002

30th anniversary of the passage of Title IX.

June 27, 2002

Rod Paige, the US Secretary of Education, announced the establishment of a Commission on Opportunities in Athletics. The main objective of the Commission was to gather information, analyze issues, and acquire wide public input dire at enhancing the application of the present Federal standards for assessing equal opportunity for women and men to participate in sports under Title IX. The Commission recommended the Secretary on how the standards should be revised (Heckman, 2003).

July 11, 2003

The OCR of the US Department of Education provided Intercollegiate Athletics Policy Guidance with additional clarification of the adherence to Title IX. It reiterated the validity and effectiveness of regulations governing the application and the implemented administrative policies.

March 17, 2005

The US Department of Education issued policy guidance, which considerably weakened Title IX. This implied that schools could send out e-mail survey to female students, inquiring, in which additional athletics, they might be interested. If the responses did not attract interest, schools did not have to add any athletics (Cohen, 2005).

June 23, 2007

35th Anniversary of the enactment of the Title IX.

April 20, 2010

The US Department of Education issued another policy that included the aforementioned additional clarification, and other related documents, such as the recommended survey.

April 4, 2011

The US Department of Education issued a policy guidance that clarified issues relating to Title IX protections against sexual violence and harassment. This made it clear that Title IX protections applied to all students. According to Heckman (2003), it addressed athletics department, specifically when it required schools to deploy similar procedures applying to all students in resolving sexual violence complaints including the student athletes.

June 23, 2012

40th Anniversary of the enactment of Title IX.

Summary of the Timeline

The applicability of Title IX has been expanding each year. Initially, the law was meant to address the inequalities that existed in the participation of women and men in athletics. However, the law is currently applicable to all aspects of the education system. The pre-Title IX period of this timeline shows that the regulations majorly addressed discrimination against women (Cohen, 2005). With the enactment of this law, other aspects of education such as sexual harassment, besides discrimination against women, took the center stage. The education of women has undergone tremendous change within 40 years of existence of the law.

Analysis of the History and Implications of Title IX

Despite the varying views with regard to Title IX, the history and discussion of Title IX essentially focuses on whether, and to what degree, Title IX has led to the increased athletic opportunities for female. Some people have also argued that the enactment of Title IX led to the decreased athletic opportunities for males. From the history of Title IX, the legislation had influenced some aspects of athletes other than the increasing opportunities. According to Brake (2010), the increased exposure of female athletics resulted in the increased dominance of males in the governance of the women’s sports. For instance, NCAA which was male-dominated proposed women’s championships. This resulted in the eventual termination of the AIAW.

The 2012 London Olympics marked a new wave of interest in the effect of Title IX and how the growth of athletics participation by women worldwide might be ascribed to the 1972 enactment. Apparently, the intense coverage by the NBC television system brought a closer look to the backgrounds, personalities, and history of both women and men in sports. It also opened a new source for comparison with pre-Title IX sports activity by women (Hueben, 2003).

The proponents of the present interpretation of Title IX refer to the increase in female athletic participation and attribute those increases to Title IX. Several studies have pointed out a large increase in the number of females taking part in athletics at both college and high school level. The number of female athletics in high school athletics had improved by a factor of nine, whereas the number of female in college athletics has increased by more than 450 percent. Altogether, many individuals contend that the existing Title IX interpretation by the OCR has led to the dismantling of the men’s athletic programs, regardless of their strong participation in athletics. For instance, many colleges have decreased their wrestling programs, though the interest in wrestling has been consistently increasing. Galemore (2003) cited the 3-prong text for adherence to Title IX, as the reason for this decrease. Historically, wrestling was the most often dropped athletic sport, though other men’s sports overtook the lead. During 1987 to 2002, according to the NCAA, the most dropped ones were indoor/outdoor track, cross-country, wrestling , golf, swimming, tennis, and rowing.

Title IX is applicable to all educational programs and all aspects of the educational system. The civil rights organizations and activists, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), have frequently maintained that students are deprived of free and equal access to education when they are sexually harassed. In addition, the sexual harassment of students, including sexual violence, interferes with the right of the student to receive education free from discrimination (Hueben, 2003). This rendered sexual harassment as a crime punishable by law. In addition to its application in the formal complaints, Title IX has also been used in civil court cases.

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Some people strongly believe that the increase in the athletic opportunity for female students came at the expense of male athletics. For instance, the College Sports Council states that there are about 1.3 million more boys taking part in high school sports that girls nationwide. By deploying the gender quota to enforce Title IX in sports, it is likely that these young athletes would be at risk of losing their opportunity to play (Cohen, 2005). High school sports participation rate substantiate this claim by the College Sports Council. However, some people continue challenging Title IX’s application to high school athletics.

From 1981 to 1999, university departments of athletics cut about 56 men’s gymnastics, 171 men’s wrestling teams, 27 men’s track teams, 25 men’s swimming teams, 84 men’s tennis teams. However, the statistics indicating the elimination of men’s teams do not indicate that Title IX has increased women’s athletics program at the expense of the men’s ones (Brake, 2010). Whereas some men’s and women’s teams have been eliminated in the Title IX period, both male and female have witnessed a net increase in the number of athletic periods over the similar period.

According to Brake (2001), Title IX has been controversial, partly because of the claims that OCR’s present interpretation, and its 3-prong test of adherence, is no longer faithful to the anti-discrimination language in the Title IX test. In addition, it appears to discriminate against men, and it significantly contributed to the reduction of male athletes. Title IX has been recognized in several instances. Various events praised the fortieth anniversary of Title IX in June 2012. For instance, the White House Council on Women and Girls hosted a panel for discussing the life-changing nature of athletics. The US President also wrote a pro-Title IX opinion.

Since Title IX addresses only private and public schools receiving federal funding, various states have also passed similar laws prohibiting discrimination based on sex, regardless of whether the institution receives federal funding or not (Heckman, 2003). About one third of all states have passed such laws, including California, Alaska, Hawaii, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Nebraska, Minnesota, New York, and Washington, among many others.


Title IX, a groundbreaking law, aimed at ending the sex discrimination in education; it became law in June 1972. Title IX offered several opportunities, not only in sports, but also in career, treatment, parenting, and higher education. With the enactment of this law, other aspects of education such as sexual harassment, besides discrimination against women, took the center stage. Despite the varying views with regard to Title IX, the history and discussion of Title IX essentially focuses on whether, and to what degree, has Title IX caused the increased athletic opportunities for female. The civil rights organizations and activists, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), have frequently maintained the idea that students are deprived of free and equal access to education when they are sexually harassed.


Brake, D. (2010). Getting in the game: Title IX and the women's sports revolution. New York, NY: New York University Press.

Brake, D. (2001). The struggle for sex equality in sport and the theory behind Title IX. University of Michigan Law Journal , 34 (13), 10-24.

Cohen, D. (2005). Title IX: Beyond equal protection. Harvard Journal of Law and Gender , 28, 222-226.

Fiore, D. ( 2009). Introduction to educational administration: Standards, theories, and practice. New York, NY: Eye on Education.

Galemore, G. (2003). Title IX and sex discrimination in education: An overview. Washington, DC: Library of Congress.

Heckman, D. (2003). The glass sneaker: Thirty years ofvictories and defeat involving Title IX and sex discrimination in athletics. Fordham Intellectual Property, Media, & Entertainment Law Journal , 13, 551.

Hueben, E. (2003). Revolution, numbers, IX: The thirtieth anniversary of Title IX and the proportionality challenge. Kansas, KS: University of Missouri Kansas City Law.

United States Department of Justice. (2012). Equal Access to Education: Forty Years of Title IX . Washington, DC: US DOJ.

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