USA Wrestling Women s Sports Found...

Women s Sports Foundation turns up the heat on the federal Title IX Commission

By Gary Abbott | Dec. 21, 2002, 12 a.m. (ET)

A day after a number of women's groups held a press conference protesting possible changes to Title IX enforcement, the Women's Sports Foundation, the prominent women's sports advocacy group, started its own campaign to challenge the federal Commission reviewing the law. By using e-mails to its advocacy database, and posting materials on its webpage, the Women's Sports Foundation has asked its supporters to send letters to each of the 15 individuals serving on the Commission on Opportunity in Athletics, as well as the Secretary of Education, the Office of Civil Rights and the White House. The final meeting of the Commission on Opportunity in Athletics will be held in Washington, D.C. on January 8. In the last meeting of the group in Philadelphia in December, many Commissioners made suggested changes to the Title IX enforcement regulations. The women's sports leadership is attempting to bring to bear public pressure on this group of respected individuals in order to make it difficult to complete its work in January, when the proposed changes are voted upon. Below is the text of a copy of an "URGENT" e-mail sent to the advocacy list of the Women's Sports Foundation. The information is consistent with the materials presented on the Thursday press conference, using scare tactics to try to convince people that if the regulations are changed that women will have their sports taken away. Text is below. "URGENT - Women's Sports in Jeopardy: Commission Seeks to Weaken Title IX" "Sport programs for girls and women are in serious trouble. The proposals currently being considered by the Title IX Commission will negatively alter the landscape of high school and collegiate athletics for women and men. Under these proposals, institutions are allowed to offer up to 78,000 fewer female participation opportunities at the college level, and up to 1.4 million fewer participation opportunities for girls in high school. Collegiate women stand to lose $75 to $188 million in college athletic scholarships. Astonishingly, these proposals come when women and girls still do not receive equal benefits afforded to male athletes. If you've been waiting to act... don't wait any longer. Unless you speak out now, 30 years of progress may be lost." "Voice your opinion regarding the dangerous recommendations proposed by the Commission for changes to Title IX. A new letter is available at that will be sent to the Commissioners, Secretary of Education Rod Paige, Office for Civil Rights and the White House." Each of the advocacy e-mails had a larger document attached, with more specifics on the protest by the Women's Sports Foundation concerning the "draft proposals" by the Commission members. The document provides a new position statement of the Women's Sports Foundation, which is posted below. "FOUNDATION POSITION The current Title IX athletics policies should remain unchanged and be more strongly enforced. Athletic directors and other college officials have been misinformed about the use of the provisions of Title IX, which permit departure from the proportionality standard for non-gender-based reasons. The Department of Education should conduct education programs about the law. National sport governance organizations (NCAA, NAIA, etc.) must explore the possibility of an anti-trust exemption and other measures that would permit the more effective control of athletic program costs. The "arms race" and the cost of athletics are the primary reasons for the discontinuation of men's sports teams and failure to add women's teams to meet Title IX obligations." In an interesting twist, the Women's Sports Foundation also provides a number of quotes by leaders, but with the following statement: "NOTE: Julie Foudy, President, and Donna de Varona, Chair of the Foundation's Board of Stewards, will not make formal statements until their service as members of the Commission is complete." When the Commission was formed in June 2002, the Women's Sports Foundation issued a press release quoting de Varona on her position concerning Title IX and the Commission. Throughout the Commission's six-month hearing process, both Foudy and de Varona have been interviewed countless times, opposing any change to the law's interpretation, even before the testimony had been completely provided. After an inaccurate and nasty attack on the sport of wrestling in an interview in the Chicago Sun Times by de Varona, USA Wrestling sent a letter of protest to the Commission chairs, noting de Varona's inappropriate actions and questioning whether she should remain on the Commission. Now, when the women's groups are challenging the Bush Administration, the Department of Education, the Office of Civil Rights, the Commission staff and even individual Commissioners of bias, suddenly de Varona and Foudy are not making formal statements on their position until after the final hearing. The Women's Sports Foundation literature includes much of the material discussed in the previous press conference. Included in the statement is this set of statistics, which has no explanation of how it was researched and assumed. "According to statistical analyses conducted by the Womeníss Sports Foundation for the NCWGE, all of the proposals currently being considered by the Title IX Commission will negatively alter the landscape of high school and collegiate athletics for women and men by permitting institutions to -- offer from 31,000 to 78,000 fewer female participation opportunities at the college level, -- offer from 578,000 to 1.4 million fewer participation opportunities for girls in high school, and -- award $75 to $188 million less in college athletic scholarships to women than is currently required under the law." As in other statements, the Women's Sports Foundation continues to claim that men's sports opportunities have gained, rather than lost, during the years of proportionality. Even though this was addressed completely in testimony during the Commission hearings, the Women's Sports Foundation, in effect, asserts that the testimony of the men's sports athletes, coaches and leaders about lost opportunity is not accurate and that there really is no problem. The statement is below: "Men's opportunities have increased, not decreased. An authoritative study by the General Accounting Office shows that the number of male athletes has increased by about 5% since 1981-82, with men's baseball and soccer teams, among others, registering big gains. " Once again, in regards to proven opportunity loss in many sports, the Women's Sports Foundation refuses to consider that Title IX was a factor in any way. Once again, the finger is pointed entirely on finances, with football and men's basketball the villian identified. The statement is below: "Where men's opportunities have been cut, Title IX is not the reason. Where there have been reductions in certain men's teams, such as wrestling, those reductions have been made for reasons unrelated to Title IX - including declining interest in specific sports, liability considerations, and the poor performance of specific teams. Notably, it is bloated expenses for football and men's basketball, and the athletics arms race in general, that are the biggest culprits for losses to men's minor sports opportunities. Men and women need not be pitted against each other; sensible budgeting can enhance opportunities for all." The rest of the document contains many of the claims of bias in the creation and implementation of the Commission's work. The Women's Sports Foundation is challenging the selection of Commissioners, the selection of panelists, ommisions by the Commission staff, obstruction of information, and even the length of the six-month process. To wrap up its position, the Women's Sports Foundation points at the financial situation in college athletics, once again calling upon a truly radical idea, a congressional antitrust expemtion to limit coaches salaries in college athletics. The statement is below: "The NCAA should seek a congressional antitrust exemption with regard to coaches' sala