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OCR: Office for Civil Rights
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Dear Colleague Letter

OFFICE OF THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY



Page 7
  • opinions of coaches, administrators, and athletes at the institution regarding whether interested students and admitted students have the potential to sustain an intercollegiate team; and
  • if the team has previously competed at the club or intramural level, whether the competitive experience of the team indicates that it has the potential to sustain an intercollegiate team.

Additionally, because OCR recognizes that students may have a broad range of athletic experiences and abilities, OCR also examines other indications of ability such as:

  • participation in other sports, intercollegiate, interscholastic or otherwise, that may demonstrate skills or abilities that are fundamental to the particular sport being considered; and
  • tryouts or other direct observations of participation in the particular sport in which there is interest.

As the 1996 Clarification indicated, neither a poor competitive record, nor the inability of interested students or admitted students to play at the same level of competition engaged in by the institution's other athletes, is conclusive evidence of lack of ability.  For the purposes of assessing ability, it is sufficient that interested students and admitted students have the potential to sustain an intercollegiate team. 

  1. Frequency of Assessments

As discussed in the 1996 Clarification, OCR evaluates whether an institution assesses interest and ability periodically so that the institution can identify in a timely and responsive manner any developing interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex.  There are several factors OCR considers when determining the rate of frequency for conducting an assessment.  These factors include, but are not limited to:

  • the degree to which the previous assessment captured the interests and abilities of the institution’s students and admitted students of the underrepresented sex;
  • changes in demographics or student population at the institution;17 and
  • whether there have been complaints from the underrepresented sex with regard to a lack of athletic opportunities or requests for the addition of new teams. 

Further, OCR will consider whether an institution conducts more frequent assessments if a previous assessment detected levels of student interest and ability in any sport that were close to the minimum number of players required to sustain a team.

17 For example, in a typical four-year institution, the student body population will change substantially each year, by approximately 25 percent annually.


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Last Modified: 04/20/2010