Washington, DC –Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14), Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus, and Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) along with 13 cosponsors introduced a resolution today affirming that the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) is subject to Title IX and must make every effort to prevent sex discrimination in its programs and activities. This resolution comes on the heels of this year's NCAA Division I basketball championships, which drew attention to the inequitable benefits and services, including weight rooms and other conditions, experienced by the women players.

“When University of Oregon forward Sedona Prince posted her 38-second video showing the NCAA’s single stack of yoga mats and free weights as the organization’s ‘weight room’ for women’s basketball athletes during March Madness earlier this year, then cut to a ballroom-sized area with at least 12 weight rack stations for the men’s teams, it showed in real time the NCAA’s caveman-like mentality when it comes to women athletes,” Rep. Speier said. “Even more disturbing is the fact that the NCAA was put on notice for its antiquated and unjust treatment of women athletes eight years ago, yet it continues to fail to provide equal training and equipment resources, promotion, publicity, food, facilities, travel accommodations, and health care protocols and resources. Women and men everywhere are fed up with women being relegated to second class status. Our inspiring, hardworking athletes are no different. It’s time for the NCAA to join the 21st century and honor the provisions and promises of Title IX, or face the consequences.”

“The NCAA has been tolerating sex discrimination in their programs for too long,” Rep. Sherrill said. “The evidence is clear. Despite being subject to Title IX, the NCAA provided inequitable benefits and services to the women’s team during the NCAA’s Division One championship tournament. From inferior publicity and promotions to providing the women’s teams inadequate equipment, food, facilities, travel accommodations, and health care protocols, the difference between the women’s and men’s tournaments was stark. The NCAA failed to live up to the spirit of Title IX and undermined the Act’s gender equity principles to ensure that women athletes competing at the highest level are treated without discrimination. I’m proud to co-lead this resolution, which reaffirms that the NCAA is subject to Title IX and should make every effort to prevent sex discrimination in its programs and activities.”

In 1999, the Supreme Court ruled in NCAA vs. Smith that the NCAA is not subject to Title IX by virtue of the dues it receives from its federally funded member schools. However, the Supreme Court left open the question of whether the NCAA is subject to Title IX on alternative grounds, including based on its controlling authority over member schools’ federally funded athletics programs. 

The NCAA exercises controlling authority over its federally funded member institutions’ athletics programs, as Member schools cede control to the NCAA by allowing it to host 90 intercollegiate championship tournaments in 24 sports across 3 divisions. During championship tournaments, the NCAA controls the medical, training, housing, dining, and competition facilities; dictates the tournament schedule; and the publicity and promotion of the teams.

Yet despite being subject to Title IX, the NCAA provided inequitable benefits and services during March Madness to the women’s basketball teams. This is contrary to the letter and spirit of Title IX and undermines efforts to ensure gender equity in sports and society writ large.

In addition to urging the NCAA to combat sex discrimination, the resolution urges NCAA leadership to publicly release all findings and recommendations of the comprehensive review of gender equity issues in NCAA sports announced on March 25, 2021, including next steps to ensure transparency and meaningful change.

Quotes from supporting organizations and individuals are below.

“Over the next year the sports world will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of Title IX and celebrate the tremendous opportunities that have been created for women in athletics because of it. Yet the disappointing conditions experienced by the 64 teams that participated in the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship in San Antonio earlier this year is a reminder that our celebration will be bittersweet because we still have far to go in achieving true gender equity,” said Tara VanDerveer, the Setsuko Ishiyama Director of Women's Basketball, Stanford University. “I applaud Congresswoman Speier for her resolution which states that the NCAA and its member institutions are subject to the provisions of Title IX. Because of her efforts we are all reminded of the rights Title IX gave women in sports and the absolute necessity that female athletes be treated equally as required by law.”

"The inequities impacting women in college athletics, are unacceptable,” said Deborah Antoine, Women's Sports Foundation CEO. “We appreciate Representatives Spier and Sherrill for their leadership in calling attention to the need for the NCAA to abide by Title IX, to help bring greater gender equity to college athletics."

“Women and girls continue to be treated as second class in sports programs across the country, despite Title IX’s promise of a level playing field. The NCAA and schools must be held accountable,” said Neena Chaudhry, Genereal Counsel and Senior Advisor for Education at the National Women's Law Center.

The resolution is co-sponsored by Reps. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-Del.), Judy Chu (CA-27), Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Lori Trahan (MA-13), Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), David Cicilline (RI-01), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Grace Meng (NY-06), Deborah Ross (NC-02), Andy Levin (MI-09), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), and Kaiali’I Kahele (H1-02). 

A copy of the resolution is attached to this press release below.

 

###

 

 

Related Files