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USA Wrestling

USA Wrestling notes 35th anniversary of Title IX with a look to the future

By Gary Abbott | July 06, 2007, 10:17 p.m. (ET)
The ad-hoc Title IX Committee of USA Wrestling wishes to make special note of the 35th anniversary of Title IX, and encourages all involved in wrestling to become educated on this law, its enforcement and its affect on the sport.

On June 22, 1972, Congress passed Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. According to the Office of Civil Rights website, Title IX prohibits discrimination based upon sex in education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance.

The Title IX legislation reads:
"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

This law is intended for all education programs, but has received considerable attention and application within college sports.

The committee applauds the original intent of Title IX and celebrates the growth in opportunity in sports for girls and women which have occurred during the last 35 years.

USA Wrestling is committed to expanding opportunities for girls and women to participate in wrestling, and continues to focus on developing programs for women on the youth, high school, college and international levels.

Although the NCAA has not recognized women's wrestling as an emerging sport, USA Wrestling is actively working with colleges to develop more women's varsity wrestling teams and club programs.

The committee also notes that over the last 35 years, college wrestling opportunities for men have decreased dramatically. It is estimated that there were approximately 750 college wrestling teams for men when the law was passed, to over 300 programs today. This dramatic loss of wrestling teams has been in spite of growth of wrestling on the youth and high school levels over time.

USA Wrestling is also aggressively working within the sport to assist efforts to entrench the current college wrestling programs and encourage the creation of new college wrestling teams for both men and women.

Throughout the history of Title IX, the federal government and the nation's courts have developed enforcement regulations for the law. Currently, Title IX enforcement in college utilizes a three-part test, which includes 1. providing opportunities that are "substantially proportionate" to enrollment; 2. a "history and continuing practice of program expansion;" and 3. demonstration that the "interest and abilities" of the under-represented sex have been "fully and effectively accommodated."

The use of the first "prong" of the three-part test, proportionality, has been a reason that many colleges have decided to reduce opportunities for men's sports in order to achieve a numerical ratio of athletes within their varsity sports programs.

The 'unintended consequences' of Title IX enforcement has affected opportunities in numerous sports besides wrestling, including swimming, track and field, gymnastics and many others.

To mark the 35th anniversary of this landmark legislation, the ad-hoc Title IX Committee encourages the entire wrestling community to learn more about this law and its enforcement. The committee also asks all involved in wrestling to work with USA Wrestling and other organizations to ensure that the future of all athletes, both women and men, are protected and nurtured.

USA Wrestling's Board of Directors has approved an official position on Title IX, which is printed below:

Official USA Wrestling position concerning Title IX

CONSENSUS STATEMENT

As a national governing body of amateur sports, USA Wrestling is committed to equality for all to participate in athletics. We support Title IX, a law passed by Congress in 1972 to provide equal opportunity in educational programs. We believe that the positive benefits of athletic competition should be available to every person, regardless of gender. We strive to provide men and women athletes with the necessary resources, programs and support to achieve their dreams.

In this spirit of fairness, we oppose any and all interpretations and enforcement procedures that allow for the elimination of men's athletic opportunities to achieve Title IX compliance. The elimination of men's programs, as a method to reach a numerical quota, is wrong, and does nothing to develop sports opportunities for women or men. The original intent of Title IX was to provide athletic opportunities for all, not to deny opportunity from anybody.

CONSENSUS MISSION

As a national governing body of amateur sports, we are dedicated to preserve and promote opportunities for all to participate in athletics on the youth, high school, college and elite levels.

CONSENSUS GOALS

* To revise the current Title IX interpretation and enforcement, so all athletes receive fair opportunities to compete.
* To eliminate the use of quotas as a way to develop equal opportunity in sports.
* To protect and develop men's and women's Olympic sports programs on the college and high school level.
* To educate the public about the challenges faced by Olympic sports in colleges and high schools, and inform citizens how they can help affect change.
* To work directly with all sports facing similar challenges, in order to provide a more powerful and unified presence in the public forum.
* To publicize the positive values of Olympic sports in our society, and provide information about their powerful impact on America's youth.
* To educate coaches in all Olympic sports, by developing administrative and public relations skills, to help strengthen and perpetuate the programs at their institutions.
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