College Sports Council celebrates five years of Title IX reform and looks to future

By Gary Abbott | May 02, 2007, 7:36 p.m. (ET)
Five years ago, the topic of Title IX was very much in the news. The nation was celebrating the 30th anniversary of the landmark legislation. The National Wrestling Coaches Association was in the headlines because of a Title IX lawsuit. Shortly after, the Department of Education announced the formation of a federal Commission to review Title IX and its enforcement.

It was in this climate that a new organization was formed to seek Title IX reform and protect athletic opportunities for all student-athletes. The College Sports Council (CSC) was created, led by wrestling leaders along with visionaries from other Olympic sports.

This past weekend, the College Sports Council celebrated its fifth anniversary, holding a major function at Hilton Embassy Row in the heart of our nation's capitol, Washington, D.C. There were numerous speakers during the event and some major announcements concerning the future of the organization, as well as its direction moving forward.

"We had a good gathering of key people in the Title IX reform community," said Eric Pearson, Chairman of the College Sports Council and former wrestling coach at Princeton Univ. "It was a nice event and we plan to do it every year."

Among the speakers were four-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer and celebrity public speaker John Naber, 2004 Olympic gold medalist rower Jason Read, and CSC Communications Director Jessica Gavora, author of the landmark Title IX book "Tilting the Playing Fields."

"The fifth anniversary was a good excuse to bring everybody together who have worked so hard on Title IX reform. We would have liked to have everybody there. We were pleased with our turnout and the entire weekend. People enjoyed themselves and found it very informative," said Pearson.

It was a time to look back at the achievements and challenges of the last five years in the Title IX reform movement, with an eye toward the opportunities of the future.

"People were talking about how our perspective is included in every article about Title IX now. Before 2002, were were almost always excluded," said Pearson. "We are now included in Title IX activities. I was able to testify before the Knight Commission. Jessica Gavora will testify at the U.S. Civil Rights Commission's hearing on Title IX. We are going to Stanford Univ. to participate in a major Title IX event. That didn't happen before 2002. The College Sports Council helps get our message out in the media."

Those who attended were very impressed by the speakers, all who have in depth knowledge about sports, as well as the unintended consequences of Title IX and its destructive enforcement that has led to the elimination of hundreds of college sports teams.

"John Naber has stepped forward and said he will do anything he can to help the College Sports Council. His speech was very motivational. Jason Read is still competing after being an Olympic gold medalist in 2004. It was great to have a mix of sports legends and current athletes. It is also very nice to get a variety of sports to join along with wrestling, which was the sport that helped create the Council," said Pearson.

The anniversary weekend also gave the College Sports Council an opportunity to make three major announcements concerning the future direction of the organization and the Title IX reform effort.

The CSC announced the formation of an official Board of Advisors, which has been formed to develop a network of experts to offer guidance and expertise to the College Sports Council. The first three members of the CSC Board of Advisors were announced: Barbara Ledeen (founder of the Independent Women's Forum), Jim McCarthy (a public relations expert from McCarthy Communications) and Jamie Moffatt (retired business consultant, wrestling leader and chairman emeritus of the CSC).

"Having the advise of experts who are leaders in their field will help the CSC to professionalize what we do," said Pearson. "We are reaching out to the most talented people we can find to help the movement. Barbara Ledeen provides counsel on how things work in Washington DC and can advise on helping the College Sports Council to grow. Jim McCarthy has been an ongoing advisor and has been behind-the-scenes in getting a tremendous amount of publicity. Jamie Moffatt, as a retired business consultant, provides the discipline needed to help grow the organization. We want to build the Board of Advisors in the future," said Pearson.

The CSC has announced an agreement with the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) to provide the organization with pro bono legal support and vast expertise. The PLF is a leading legal organization with a proven track record in using litigation to change public policy. The organization, based in California, has a national network of attorneys with experience in all levels of litigation.

"Any legal initiative can be very expensive. The Pacific Legal Foundation has tremendous experience and can provide legal services on a pro bono basis," said Pearson. "We will have new legal strategies in the future, working with some of the best people in the nation. They have never done Title IX before, but felt we were a good organization to work with. They liked our five-year track record on Title IX issues. With the issues they take on, Title IX fits in neatly. They challenge race and sex based preferences," said Pearson.

It was also announced that Jessica Gavora had been elected as the Vice-President for Policy for the College Sports Council.

"After working with distinction as our Communications Director, we decided to promote Jessica to Vice-President for Policy," said Pearson. "She brings a wealth of experience and knowledge on Title IX. She is not only a great speechwriter, but is a major policy expert. She is passionate about the issue, is very dedicated and determined, and has amazing talent. She also knows the Washington DC culture and what you need to do to get things done. We are very fortunate to have Jessica on board."

With the celebration of the 35th anniversary of Title IX just a few weeks away, many expect the issue to be prominent in the news during the next year. The College Sports Council is excited about moving forward its agenda and getting more results.

"We will continue our Title IX reform efforts, grow our organization, and strengthen ourselves financially," said Pearson. "We look forward to more partnerships like with the Pacific Legal Foundation. We will continue to reach out to people in the sports community and others who don't want to see programs cut."

For more information on the College Sports Council and the Title IX reform effort, visit