When we blogged last month about the NCAA’s vote to allow Division I institutions to provide athletes who receive full athletic scholarships with $2000 spending money stipends, we speculated that this proposal could exacerbate existing disparities in scholarship funds awarded to men and women, causing and contributing to member institutions’ compliance problems under Title IX.
Reading a letter sent today to the NCAA from the Faculty Athletics Representatives, I came to understand why the problem is even worse from a Title IX perspective than I initially understood. The new rule only authorizes the cost-of-living stipends to athletes in so-called “head count” sports who receive full scholarships or the equivalent of a full scholarship when combined with other financial aid. Athletes in “equivalency sports” who receive receive partial athletics scholarships are not eligible for the stipend. While Division I allows up to 98 full scholarships in the men’s head-count sports (football and men’s baseball), there are only 47 possible female head count student-athletes (basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, and tennis). So there is no way an institution could fully fund its cost-of-living stipends and still comply with Title IX. FAR has requested that the NCAA amend the proposal to allow cost-of-living stipends in equivalency sports as well, which could theoretically allow institutions to spread smaller awards over more athletes in a way that could balance out the total dollars awarded overall.
We’ll have to wait and see how NCAA responds to this proposal, and generally to the Title IX objections that have been raised.