The FEMALE Act: Bringing Title IX into the Twenty-First Century

Courtney Tibbetts · 22 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. 697

Abstract

What was once lauded as a progressive champion for women has been decaying in practice. Enacted more than forty-five years ago, Title IX’s unforeseen consequences and shortcomings are primarily borne by female collegiate athletes. To comply with Title IX, the majority of college athletic programs follow the proportionality standard, which mandates that male and female participation in athletics must be substantially proportional to universities’ overall undergraduate enrollment. Female participation in college athletics has increased to nearly five times the pre-1972 participation rates since the introduction of Title IX. While that progress is admirable, the athletes of today—both male and female—deserve better.

A decrease in the number of female coaches, high rates of sexual abuse of female athletes, and elimination of successful men’s programs are some of the major negative unintended consequences of Title IX as it is currently implemented. It is in the best interest of all serious collegiate athletes—male and female—to update the system to ensure the integrity of college athletics and wellbeing of student athletes. This Note argues that the best way to fix Title IX is to alter its biggest weakness: the proportionality requirement. Specifically, this Note suggests a new solution: the FEMALE Act, which would (1) remove the top revenue-producing sport at each school from the proportionality calculation; (2) require schools to meet the proportionality requirement with coaches, not just athletes; and (3) add provisions that better protect athletes from sexual abuse.