College sports is a big business, and both federal law and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) have rules about opportunities for student athletes. The percentage of students who receive athletic scholarships is very small, but Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act has increased students' participation in sports.
Title IX Levels the Playing Field
Title IX states that any college or university that receives federal financial aid must give equal opportunities to male and female students. They must be able to enroll at a school and participate in its sports programs. Title IX applies to intercollegiate sports games played against other schools. It also applies to interscholastic sports programs, where students from the same school play against each other. Schools must provide male and female programs with space and equipment of equal quality.
Title IX Makes Some Allowances
Title IX doesn't require schools to place a woman on the men's football team, and it doesn't mean a school is obligated to have both male and female teams in each sport. It just requires that schools offer sports programs in which both genders can compete. Title IX gives schools some discretion regarding allocation of their sports budgets. Schools can decide which sports they want to fund based on student interest, as well as other factors. They don't have to divide their budgets 50/50 between men's and women's programs, and most schools don't.
Title IX Affects Scholarships
Under the terms of Title IX, schools must base financial aid and athletic scholarships on the ratio of male athletes to female athletes who are enrolled. For example, if 300 male students participate in men's football, and if 100 female students participate in women's basketball, the school can offer 75 percent of its available scholarships to male athletes and 25 percent to women.
The NCAA Also Governs Athletic Scholarships
In addition to Title IX, colleges must also follow NCAA rules for sports. Schools must award athletic scholarships that cover education costs for at least one year. They can't give scholarships for just one semester. Division I schools can award scholarships to cover more years of schooling. Scholarships typically cover everything from tuition, books, room and board, and other fees. The NCAA also regulates how many scholarships each college can award.
An Education Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding student athletes and Title IX in higher education is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact an education lawyer.