The present and future of law in college sports

The 50th anniversary of Title IX has ushered in celebration and reflection throughout college sports. For hotlines, the moment of time also provides an opportunity for forecasting.

For all the benefits created by the coercive Civil Rights Act, which became the law of the land on June 23, 1972, the next chapter in the evolution of equity is also important.

And it comes in the form of a significant change in college sports:

Name, image and likeness have changed recruitment and allocation of resources.

Athletes can be declared employees by the Supreme Court’s decision on educational benefits.

The NCAA is rewriting its constitution to give the Power Five more autonomy.

More men are coaching women’s sports, yet Division I has an embarrassingly low number of female athletic directors.

To address the current status and future direction of Title IX, the hotline reached out to four leaders in college sports:

— Washington Athletic Director Jane Cohen

– Teresa Goldie, deputy commissioner of Pac-12

— West Coast Convention Commissioner Gloria Newarez

— Women’s Leader in College Sports Chief Executive Patti Phillips

The interviews were conducted separately and have been modified for clarity.

– Title IX has recently gained significant attention due to its 50th anniversary. Where does the law apply at the present time?

Sleep: I’m excited that so much conversation is happening around the industry. In my lifetime, Title IX has been the biggest game-changer in intercollegiate athletics and beyond. It has been transformative. The experience I had in the 1970s and ’80s is very different from what girls are now.

Newarez: I’m on the NCAA change committee, and I keep thinking, ‘Thank God for Title IX, but we still have a lot of work to do.’ Gender equality is enshrined in the NCAA constitution, and without Title IX, people wouldn’t be asking about equity. What happened in the 2021 Women’s Final Four sheds light on the situation. Just because the NCAA does not receive federal funding, it represents the ecosystem and must be followed.

Philips: Progress has been made, and it’s important to remember. Without Title IX, we would not be where we are. I won’t have my job. I would not have had a career in coaching. I don’t go to college on a (basketball) scholarship. There are thousands of such stories, and the opportunities Title IX has opened to them are priceless. I am grateful for this and we should celebrate it. But we are not done yet.

– What areas of college sports are ripe for additional progress?

Sleep: The mindset about opportunity and investment still needs to change. Do we want leaders to follow Title IX because they are legally required, or do we want them to invest in Title IX because it is the right thing to do? There is a lack of view of women’s sport as a product, Whether it’s female student-athletes or the WNBA, we don’t want them to be viewed as a charity, but as a viable product that – if you build a strategy and invest – can become a successful business. Efficiency is difficult to measure because investment has not been happening for a very long time. We haven’t made the same investment as in the men’s game. Think of the Women’s College World Series. If we had invested 30 or 40 years ago, what would it look like now?

Cohen: Interestingly, women’s sports are more valuable to consumers due to their increasing popularity. If we keep providing more opportunities, they will develop more value and provide more revenue so we can reinvest. It’s so reverse. I look up to my sons, who are 17 and 19, and they only know of the amazing female athletes that Washington has been through. And my boys, because they grew up in that environment and because they’ve participated in or watched sports, they value female athletes and women’s sports. It’s exciting. It is something to be thankful for. And this is something that should continue everywhere. Title IX is not a destination. This is a work in progress.

Philips: There is hope from women’s organizations that we can continue to expand and grow. There’s a lot of opportunity for equity, and we’re not there. Only 23 percent of college athletic directors in all NCAA divisions are women. In Division I, it is just 14 per cent. And in the Power Five, only six of the 65 athletic directors are women. If leadership is going to reflect the population it serves, that number should be 50 percent.

– On that issue specifically, why aren’t more women leading major college athletic departments?

Cohen: I hope that if we give women and girls the opportunity to compete and work in sports, we will develop a bigger pipeline. And if there’s a bigger pipeline, we’re more likely to see lead numbers grow.

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