According to an NCAA report examining the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the number of women competing at the top level of college athletics continues to rise, alongside a growing funding gap between men’s and women’s athletic programs.
The report, released Thursday and titled “The State of Women in College Sports,” found that 47.1% of participation opportunities were for Division I women in 2020, up from 26.4% in 1982.
Yet, amidst this growth, men’s programs received more than double those of women’s programs in allocated resources in 2020 – and this gap was even more pronounced when considering the most profitable revenue-generating home sports: the Football Bowl subdivision, the top tier within Division I that includes the sports world states of Alabamas, Ohio, and Southern California.
“That tells you that schools are investing a tremendous amount of money in money generators,” Amy Wilson, NCAA executive director for the office of inclusion and lead author of the report, told The Associated Press. , referring to soccer as the main revenue-generating sport along with men’s basketball. .
“It speaks to the business side of what college sports has become.”
The gender gap in funding approached ratios of almost 3 to 1 when looking at recruiting expenses as well as compensation for head coaches and assistant coaches. And this gap is not new, even with increased spending on women in all three divisions.
The difference between the median total expenditures of male and female programs at FBS schools, in particular, increased from $12.7 million in 2009 to $25.6 million in 2019.
Wilson said these discrepancies do not automatically violate Title IX, which guarantees gender equity in education and prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity receiving funds. federal. But they raise concerns when it comes to assessing whether schools provide equal opportunities and treatment to male and female athletes, and how they spend to achieve those goals.
“Yes, the numbers are striking. It’s not a small difference, it’s a big difference,” she said. “This milestone anniversary of Title IX is an opportune time to renew its commitment to funding equitable participation opportunities, experiences and financial assistance for student-athletes in both men’s and women’s athletics programs.”
Compliance with Title IX can be measured in several ways, including whether the gender distribution of the overall program is proportional to that of all students. And yet, the study found Division I athletics couldn’t match that standard when looking at 2020 data; women made up 54% of the Division I undergraduate student body, up from the aforementioned 47.1%.
“I think there’s enough of a gap for us to ask ourselves: … are there opportunities that could be created and more teams that could be formed?” said Wilson.
Thursday’s Title IX anniversary comes at a time when college sports’ governing body recently updated its transgender policy, along with criticism for failing to ensure fairness in men’s basketball tournaments and women’s last year following scathing outside scrutiny.
Other takeaways from the report:
Lack of women in leadership
Fewer women have held head coaching positions since President Nixon signed into law Title IX.
The percentage of women’s teams led by female coaches has fallen from over 90% in 1972 to 41% in 2020 across all three divisions. There were fewer women’s teams at this time and the study attributes the decline to more men coaching women’s teams, enough to overtake the number of women coaches in the late 1980s, with no corresponding increase in the number of women coaches. women leading men’s programs.
This low number of female coaches comes as no surprise to Richard Lapchick, director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Central Florida Sports. TIDES compiles newsletters annually examining diversity hiring for college sports and professional leagues, with its latest FBS Schools Report released in January.
“Without movement,” Lapchick told the AP. “It’s as disconcerting as any stat we report on. Usually there’s marginal improvement on some issues. And this one barely budges.”
As for athletic directors, women made up around 20% or less of ADs dating back to 1980 after it dropped “drastically” and 23.9% in 2020, according to the study.
The outlier among women in leadership roles has been conference commissioners, with women outpacing men in acquiring those positions over the past five years and accounting for 31% of those roles for 2019-20, according to the report. ‘study.
The report also noted a lack of women of color in these leadership roles.
The report found that around 16% of women working as head coaches of women’s teams and 16% of women directors of athletics across all divisions were minorities in 2019-20. These percentages have increased “slightly” over the past five years.
High school dropouts
Returning to high school athletics, the report revealed that girls’ participation figures had yet to reach that of boys during the 1971-72 school year which led to the implementation of the law.
At the time, participation opportunities for boys stood at nearly 3.7 million, more than 264,000 more than girls in 2019.
“I think it’s a reminder that for those who say, ‘Girls and women can play any sport they want, this is 50 years after Title IX,’ college and university data. high schools show that there are still big participation gaps,” Wilson said. . “And I don’t think it’s because they don’t want to play. I think we need to think more about: what are the barriers to that access?”