Title IX Questions & Answers
How does Title IX affect booster clubs? What are the most common pitfalls? Rhonda Blanford-Green, Assistant Commissioner Equity Liaison for the Colorado High School Activities Association, explains how high schools can stay on the right side of the law.
By Rhonda Blanford-Green
Assistant Commissioner Equity Liaison
Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA)
As schools and school districts face shrinking budgets, they rely increasingly on booster clubs to provide financial support for extracurricular activities. Here in Colorado, in response to a growing number of questions, the CHSAA has created a set of policies for distributing booster monies equitably.
What is Title IX?
"Title IX" refers to a provision of the Education Amendments of 1972, a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education programs that receive federal financial assistance, which includes athletics programs at virtually every educational institution. Although Title IX never specifically mentions athletics, that's where it's made the greatest impact. According to Title IX, "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."
How does Title IX affect athletics?
Title IX covers gender equity issues in:
- athletic scholarships
- participation opportunities
- equipment and supplies
- scheduling of games and practices
- travel and per diem allowances
- locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities
- medical and training facilities and services
- housing and dining facilities and services
- support services
- recruitment of student-athletes.
Who decides whether a school is in compliance?
Title IX is enforced by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education. In 1979, the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare issued a set of guidelines for judging compliance, which is known as the "three-prong test." Schools stay within the law by meeting one of three prongs:
- Providing athletic opportunities that are in proportion to student enrollment
- Demonstrating a continual expansion of athletic opportunities for the underrepresented sex
- Fully and effectively accommodating the interest and ability of the underrepresented sex.
Does Title IX apply to athletic booster clubs?
Yes. If your school permits sports-specific booster clubs, it must ensure that benefits and services are equivalent for both sexes.
Can a booster club help fund a specific athletic program?
Yes, as long as all funds are distributed through the school administration.
If the high school baseball team receives money from boosters, is the softball team entitled to the same benefits?
When distributing resources, schools are obligated to consider all boys' and girls' sports in a non-discriminatory manner. If a donation is made to the baseball team, the school needs to ensure the donation doesn't lead to discrimination in the athletics program as a whole. The benefits to baseball and softball may not match exactly, but school must find resources to provide the same benefits to boys and girls.
What are the danger signs of non-compliance?
- Inequitable facilities
- Inequitable equipment and supplies
- Inequitable coaching allocations
- Inequitable schedules
- Inequitable travel accommodations
- Inequitable concessions
- Inequitable charitable contributions.
Can a booster club pay directly for coaches and officials?
No. All funds must be given to the school for distribution. Booster clubs can donate to a general activities fund, but can not specify that the monies be used for salaries.
What should administrators do?
Working with their school and district administration, athletic directors should develop written procedures to ensure benefits are distributed equitably whenever donations are made, and should provide a copy of the procedures to coaches, boosters, and donors.
This article is adapted from a resource guide developed by the Colorado High School Activities Association Equity Committee.