Modifications in Title IX could change the game for female athletes

A revamp of Title IX might just make school sports more equitable for female athletes. The law, which was designed to dismantle discrimination in educational programs that receive federal funding, will undergo changes to be enforced by the Department of Education.

It is speculated that the department's Office for Civil Rights will close a loophole in the law set in place during the Bush administration. Passed in 1972, the law required that universities show that women's participation in athletics at their institution was on par with women's enrollment in the school, that they were actively expanding programs and opportunities, or that they were already fulfilling the needs of female athletes. A 2005 policy shifted the requirements of the law, allowing universities to offer students a survey declaring their interests. If students did not respond to the survey, it was assessed that they were not interested in athletics.

The N.C.A.A. opposed the 2005 Title IX amendment and encouraged universities to ignore it, complying as they had previously. Supporters of the 2005 policy said the most logical way to assess what students want from athletic programs is to ask them.

The newest changes will not abolish the surveys altogether. Universities will still be able to use them. However, they will also have to provide supplementary proof of compliance and will no longer be able to use a lack of survey response as an indicator of a lack of interest in athletics.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan has also said that there will be assessments of whether schools are complying with civil rights laws that umbrella Title IX and will conduct investigations of 32 school districts.

Vice President Biden, who will announce the makeover to the gender-equity law, said, "Making Title IX as strong as possible is a no-brainer. What we're doing here today will better ensure equal opportunity in athletics, and allowing women to realize their potential - so this nation can realize its potential."

What changes would you like to see in school sports opportunities and programs for female athletes? Would you like to see the government add anything to this overhaul of Title IX?

[photo credit: Getty Images]