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OCR: Office for Civil Rights
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Dear Colleague Letter

OFFICE OF THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY



Page 6

1996 Clarification, OCR evaluates the interests of the underrepresented sex by examining the following list of non-exhaustive indicators:

  • requests by students and admitted students that a particular sport be added;
  • requests for the elevation of an existing club sport to intercollegiate status;
  • participation in club or intramural sports;
  • interviews with students, admitted students, coaches, administrators and others regarding interests in particular sports;
  • results of surveys or questionnaires of students and admitted students regarding interests in particular sports;14   
  • participation in interscholastic sports by admitted students; and
  • participation rates in sports in high schools, amateur athletic associations, and community sports leagues that operate in areas from which the institution draws its students.15

In accordance with the 1996 Clarification, OCR also will consider the likely interest16 of the underrepresented sex by looking at participation in intercollegiate sports in the institution’s normal competitive regions.

  1. Multiple Indicators Evaluated to Assess Ability

As discussed in the 1996 Clarification, OCR considers a range of indicators to assess whether there is sufficient ability among interested students of the underrepresented sex to sustain a team in the sport.  When making this determination, OCR examines indicators such as:

  • the athletic experience and accomplishments — in interscholastic, club or intramural competition — of underrepresented students and admitted students interested in playing the sport;

14 OCR evaluates all of the indicators discussed here so OCR does not consider survey results alone as sufficient evidence of lack of interest under Part Three.

15 As discussed in the 1996 Clarification, this indicator may be helpful to OCR in ascertaining likely interest of an institution’s students and admitted students in particular sports, especially in the absence of more direct indicia.  However, in conducting its investigations, OCR determines whether an institution is meeting the actual interests and abilities of its students and admitted students.

An institution’s evaluation should take into account sports played in the high schools and communities from which it draws its students, both as an indication of possible interest at the institution, and to permit the institution to plan to meet the interests of admitted students of the underrepresented sex.  For example, if OCR's investigation finds that a substantial number of high schools from the relevant region offer a particular sport that the institution does not offer for the underrepresented sex, OCR will ask the institution to provide a basis for any assertion that its students and admitted students are not interested in playing that sport.  OCR also may interview students, admitted students, coaches, and others regarding interest in that sport.

16 See Footnote 15 above.


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Last Modified: 04/20/2010