Charter—Secretary's Commission on Opportunity in Athletics
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The Secretary of Education's Commission on Opportunity in Athletics (Commission) is established by the Secretary of Education, and is governed by the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) (P.L. 92-463, as amended; 5 U.S.C.A. Appendix 2).


The 30th anniversary of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 ("Title IX") is upon us. Title IX, signed into law by President Nixon, prohibits recipients of Federal funds from discriminating on the basis of sex. This landmark legislation and evolving societal attitudes regarding the "proper" role of women largely explain many of the opportunities that women now enjoy. Prior to the enactment of Title IX, schools and universities receiving federal funds were free to discriminate against women (and girls), and many did. This partially explains the paucity of school and collegiate athletic teams prior to the enactment of Title IX.

Over the last 20 years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of women's (and girls') athletic teams at both the high school and college levels. From 1981 to 1999, the total number of college women's teams increased by 66%. The growth of certain women's sports has been explosive during this period. According to the General Accounting Office, for example, colleges created over 846 new women's soccer teams. In 1971, 294,015 girls participated in high school athletics. Today, over 2.7 million girls participate in high school athletics. This represents an 847% increase.

Despite these gains, questions have been raised about the effectiveness of the Federal government's Title IX enforcement. Many college administrators claim that the Department has failed to provide clear guidance on how colleges can comply with Title IX. Several groups have alleged that the Office for Civil Rights has failed to effectively enforce Title IX. Others claim that the manner in which the Department enforces the law needlessly results in the elimination of certain men's teams. All of the advocates are passionate and determined.


The purpose of the Commission is to collect information, analyze issues, and obtain broad public input directed at improving the application of current Federal standards for measuring equal opportunity for men and women and boys and girls to participate in athletics under Title IX.

The Commission will recommend to the Secretary, in a written report, whether those standards should be revised, and if so, how the standards should be revised. The Commission will also recommend other steps that might be taken to improve the effectiveness of Title IX and to maintain and build upon the extraordinary progress that has resulted from its passage 30 years ago.

The Commission will collect and analyze information related to the issues described below, including information and comment from members of the public. To this end, the Commission will conduct at least three (3) town-hall meetings in different parts of the country to obtain a public discussion of the issues.


The Commission will be composed of not more than 15 members appointed by the Secretary from the public and private sectors, as well as up to three (3) ex officio members from the Department of Education. The members shall include representatives of college, university, and school district officials, such as athletic directors, coaches, and other faculty, and representatives of intercollegiate and secondary school athletes; and may include researchers, state and local officials, and other persons with special expertise in intercollegiate and secondary school athletics or issues of equal educational opportunity. The membership of the Commission will be fairly balanced to reflect representation of a wide range of interests and perspectives relating to men's and women's (and boys' and girls') athletics.

The Secretary shall appoint members for the life of the Commission. Any vacancy in the Commission shall not affect its powers, but shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment. The Secretary shall select one or more chairpersons from among the members of the Commission.

The Secretary names the Designated Federal Official (DFO) to the Commission. The Office for Civil Rights and the Deputy Secretary's Office will provide management and staff support.


The Commission shall meet at the call of the DFO or the DFO's designee, who is present at all meetings. Meetings are open to the public except as may be determined otherwise by the Secretary in accordance with Section 10(d) of the FACA. Adequate public notification will be given in advance of each meeting. Meetings are conducted and records of the proceedings kept, as required by applicable laws.

A quorum of the Commission consists of eight members. A lesser number of members may hold hearings or town-hall meetings.


Members will serve without compensation. Members may each receive reimbursement for travel expenses for attending Commission meetings, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, as authorized by the Federal travel regulations. Funds will be provided by the Department of Education to administer the Commission. The estimated annual person-years of staff support are three (3) FTE. The estimated two-fiscal year cost will be approximately $700,000.


Not later than January 31, 2003, the Commission shall submit a report to the Secretary outlining its findings and any recommendations. The Commission's report shall address:

  • Are Title IX standards for assessing equal opportunity in athletics working to promote opportunities for male and female athletes?

  • Is there adequate Title IX guidance that enables colleges and school districts to know what is expected of them and to plan for an athletic program that effectively meets the needs and interests of their students?

  • Is further guidance or other steps needed at the junior and senior high school levels, where the availability or absence of opportunities will critically affect the prospective interests and abilities of student athletes when they reach college age?

  • How should activities such as cheerleading or bowling factor into the analysis of equitable opportunities?

  • How do revenue producing and large-roster teams affect the provision of equal athletic opportunities? The Department has heard from some parties that whereas some men athletes will "walk-on" to intercollegiate teams—without athletic financial aid and without having been recruited—women rarely do this. Is this accurate and, if so, what are its implications for Title IX analysis?

  • In what ways do opportunities in other sports venues, such as the Olympics, professional leagues, and community recreation programs, interact with the obligations of colleges and school districts to provide equal athletic opportunity? What are the implications for Title IX?

  • Apart from Title IX enforcement, are there other efforts to promote athletic opportunities for male and female students that the Department might support, such as public-private partnerships to support the efforts of schools and colleges in this area?


The Commission shall terminate 30 days after submitting its report.

The Commission is hereby chartered in accordance with Section 14(b) of FACA. This charter expires two years from the date of filing or before as the Secretary determines.


          July 5, 2002          

               Rod Paige               

Establishment date:          July 11, 2002          

Filing date:           July 25, 2002          

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Last Modified: 03/06/2007