Title IX: Too Strong for Women? -- A History of the First Decade in the Struggle for Equal Rights in College Athletics
This paper chronicles the movement to adopt Title IX barring discrimination in educational facilities. The story begins with Bernice Sandler working to convince the Office of Federal Contract Compliance in the Department of Labor to enforce an existing Executive Order barring discrimination in federal contracts. The Women's Equity Action League, where Sandler worked, filed a major class action against all major universities in the nation in 1970. The ensuing publicity led to dozens of law suits filed by staff members and students at institutions all over the country. The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare began to open contract compliance proceedings at a number of universities, beginning with Harvard. The uproar led to Congressional hearings and, in 1972, the adoption of Title IX.
College athletics was not a focus of attention by either those working to adopt Title IX or by those bringing the first law suits. Attention was mostly focused on hiring, promotion, and tenure issues. But in 1974, the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare announced that it intended to include athletics in the regulations to implement the new act. While a number of universities immediately moved to improve the status of women's athletics, controversy erupted in Congress. The regulations survived the debate, leading to the modern prominence of women's athletics.
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