After a 14-year investigation, OCR has determined that the University of Southern California violated Title IX by providing inferior facilities to the women’s rowing team, which produced a significant disparity in the overall treatment of men’s and women’s athletics. The rowing team uses an old boathouse 20 miles from campus, which is described as a “garage-like structure” with open and exposed walls, no designated locker room, and a single bathroom available for athletes and spectators alike. Rowing is the largest women’s sport at USC, a factor that influenced OCR’s analysis of the university’s compliance. Men’s golf apparently also lacked a designated locker room, but with only nine male golfers so affected, that fact did not balance out the inferior rowing facilities provided to the 62-member women’s crew team.
In response to OCR’s findings, USC entered into a settlement agreement requiring it renovate the boathouse by January 2014. The new boathouse will include a designated locker room, seating for spectators, a lounge area and office space, and additional restrooms to accommodate spectators of both sexes.
(If you’re wondering about why the investigation took so long…so am I. A Department of Education spokesperson reportedly told the Chronicle of Higher Education that it took 14 years to investigate the complaint, which was initially filed by California NOW, due to the “complexity of the case, which required significant data analysis.” Yet equal treatment complaints involving facilities are fairly typical, and they usually don’t take this long. A more compelling explanation would serve OCR well. Because no one’s going to file a complaint if they think it’s likely to take 14 years to resolve.)