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College sports: White House tweaks Title IX rules

Schools can no longer rely on a survey for female students about college sports to show that they are compliant with Title IX requirements, Biden announced Tuesday.

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Vice President Joe Biden pauses to remember civil rights heroine Dorothy Height during a speech at the Charles E. Smith Center at George Washington University in Washington, Tuesday. He was there to speak about Title IX that provides equal opportunities for female student athletes.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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Colleges can no longer rely on a survey for female students – designed to gauge their interest in athletics – to show that they are compliant with Title IX requirements.

Vice President Joe Biden made the announcement Tuesday about the so-called model survey. The new policy essentially rescinds a 2005 rule that critics said allowed colleges to duck out of the gender-equity law.

"Making Title IX as strong as possible is a no-brainer,” Mr. Biden said. “What we're doing here today will better ensure equal opportunity in athletics and allow women to realize their potential – so this nation can realize its potential."

While many women’s groups and the NCAA laud the change, others say it is a disappointing move that pushes colleges even more toward quotas and number requirements in athletics. A lack of flexibility often means that less-popular sports for both men and women simply get cut.

Title IX demands gender equity for programs that receive federal education money. Under it, colleges have had three ways to show they are compliant when it comes to sports: demonstrating that women’s participation is proportional to their enrollment, showing that the school is expanding the number of sports teams for women (which defers the need for proportional compliance by several years), or showing that the school is meeting the interests and abilities of women on campus.

Traditionally, showing “proportionality” has been the most widely used method. Many colleges see it as the most foolproof way to avoid a lawsuit.

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