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Distributed December 5, 1994 (See other documents linked to Title IX Chronology)
Contact: Mark Nickel

Title IX Trial: Interests and Abilities

National Data Sources Show Men's and Women's Athletic Interests Differ;
Participation Opportunities at Brown Exceed Interest of Female Athletes

In virtually any group of young people, from grade school through college and beyond, males consistently demonstrate a significantly higher level of interest in athletics than females, according to a number of studies and surveys presented in court by attorneys for Brown University as part of a precedent-setting Title IX athletic sex-discrimination case.

"Students who choose to attend Brown University arrive with different levels of interest in varsity sports, and that interest is beyond the University's control," said Walter B. Connolly Jr., the University's lead trial attorney. "The University's program of varsity sports meets those differing levels of interest equitably and effectively, as Title IX requires. In fact, Brown currently offers opportunities for varsity participation to women that are well in excess of their demonstrated level of athletic interest."

In addition to statistical evidence about athletic interest and ability, the University offered several different methods of determining varsity athletic participation opportunities. The definition of a participation opportunity has proven particularly difficult during the trial. U.S. District Court Senior Judge Raymond Pettine has repeatedly questioned witnesses on this point and has asked for written definitions.

Those two questions - the role of athletic interest and abilities and the measurement of participation opportunities - have dominated the trial since announcement of a partial settlement on Sept. 28. That settlement, in which women athletes (plaintiffs in the trial) acknowledged that Brown's current treatment of men's and women's varsity teams is non-discriminatory, removed issues of equal facilities, coaching, recruitment, training room access, travel policy and so forth from consideration in court.

"The University has contended from the very beginning of this case that Title IX does not require an institution to maintain the same ratio of men to women athletes as men to women in the undergraduate student body," said Beverly E. Ledbetter, Brown's vice president and general counsel. "Title IX clearly states that it is the interests and abilities of students that must be accommodated, not raw numbers. Every relevant data source, whether inside or outside the University, clearly shows that men and women have different levels of interest in participating in varsity athletics."

Because there is no single accepted procedure or standard for determining athletic interest among young people, the University arranged for an independent analysis of virtually every relevant data source on athletic interest in a variety of populations. Those included data sources from the U.S. Department of Education, the College Board (which administers the Scholastic Aptitude Test, taken by nearly all college applicants), the National Federation of State High School Associations, the Cooperative Institutional Research Program at UCLA, and other independent national groups outside the University, as well as the University's own admissions data. In all cases, from eighth graders to Brown students, males demonstrated a significantly higher interest in athletics than females. The representation of females among students who expressed an interest in athletics generally fell within the 36 to 43 percent range.

Athletic Interest and Ability Nationally

  • High School Students

    The 1993-94 Athletics Participation Survey, prepared by the National Federation of State High School Associations, reveals the following numbers of participants in high school athletics over more than two decades. High school participation rates for females have increased only 3.3 percent over the last 14 years. This is significant because students who do not play varsity sports in high school are highly unlikely to play them in college, according to expert testimony by Finis Welch, a labor economist and statistician. (Figures for female representation, not calculated by NFSHSA, represent the percentage of all athletic participants who were female.)

                       Males          Females   Female Representation
    1971           3,666,917          294,015             7.4
    1975-76        4,109,021        1,645,039            28.6
    1980-81        3,503,124        1,853,789            34.6
    1985-86        3,354,284        1,757,884            34.4
    1990-91        3,406,355        1,892,316            35.7
    1991-92        3,429,853        1,940,801            36.1
    1992-93        3,416,389        1,997,489            36.9
    1993-94        3,478,530        2,124,755            37.9

    (Students participating in more than one sport may be counted twice.)

    Several national longitudinal studies, conducted under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), followed students from eighth grade through high school. These cohorts showed a much larger athletic participation among males.
    Although NCES gathered information on a variety of students, the figures given below represent only those students who intended to go to college and placed in the top 25 percent on each of a series of standardized tests in math, science, reading and social studies administered during the sophomore year.

                                 1990 HS Sophomores       1992 HS Seniors
                                   %M    %F   F. Rep.     %M    %F   F. Rep.

    Member of varsity team 66.7 54.9 45.1 57.8 43.3 42.8 Say sports important 85.1 72.6 46.0 76.0 59.1 43.7 among friends Play ball with friends 60.6 28.5 32.0 37.9 17.0 31.0 at least once a week Take sports lessons 15.7 16.3 50.9 7.4 5.8 43.9 at least once a week

    (%M and %F figures represent the percentage of males and females in the overall population who responded affirmatively.) (Female Representation figures, calculated as %F divided by (%M + %F), represent the percentage of females among just those students who answered affirmatively.)

  • High School Seniors Interested in Brown University

    Most high school students who plan to attend college take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), administered by the College Board and given by Educational Testing Service, the largest testing organization in the world. Test takers may also complete a Student Descriptive Questionnaire (SDQ), which is sent along with scores to schools of the student's choosing. (Brown requires all applicants to take the SAT.) Among students who ask that their scores be sent to Brown and who declare an interest in sports, men outnumber women by a ratio of approximately 3:2.

    Class of              %M          %F      M. Rep.     F. Rep.
    1992               48.66       30.80       61.24       38.76
    1993               46.93       30.95       60.26       39.74
    1994               46.34       29.84       60.83       39.17

    (%M and %F figures represent the percentage of each sex interested in sports among all SDQs sent to Brown, whether or not students actually applied. M. Rep and F. Rep figures represent the percentage of each sex only among SDQs listing an interest in sports. They assume an equal number of SDQs from males and females.)

  • Nationwide College Freshmen

    Annual national surveys of more than 220,000 college freshmen at more than 400 colleges and universities, conducted by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) at UCLA, show a higher rate of athletic interest among men in several categories. Among freshmen at private, highly selective universities:

                                   Class of 1989           Class of 1993
                                 %M    %F   F. Rep.      %M    %F   F. Rep.
    Expect they will play      20.2  12.4     36.8     20.9  14.3     40.6
       varsity athletics
    Won varsity letter in      60.7  48.0     44.2       na    na       na
       HS senior year
    Exercized at least 16      21.0  10.5     33.3     25.3  14.7     36.8
       hours week as HS seniors

    Athletic Interest and Ability of Brown Applicants

    Brown's application procedure inquires about interest in extracurricular activities, including athletics, and provides a listing of all activities from which applicants may choose. Among students who expressed an interest in sports, the percentage of women ranges in the low to mid-40s, while the percentage of women in the class overall ranges from the low to mid-50s.

             Percent of Class     Among Students Interested in One or More Sports
              Who Are Female         % Female     %F (93-94)*     %F (94-95)*

    All Applicants: 1994 49.69 42.75 44.17 44.72 1995 48.21 40.02 42.86 43.40 1996 49.59 40.94 42.45 42.99 1997 51.67 42.78 42.26 42.80 1998 53.26 44.00 41.92 42.46 Admitted Applicants: 1994 50.12 42.44 43.44 43.98 1995 49.77 43.29 44.64 45.19 1996 53.00 45.93 44.08 44.63 1997 53.69 46.12 43.59 44.13 1998 53.45 45.91 43.62 44.16 Committed Applicants: 1994 51.05 43.61 43.70 44.24 1995 49.57 43.88 45.43 45.97 1996 52.21 45.38 44.32 44.86 1997 54.43 45.24 41.99 42.53 1998 54.09 45.67 42.75 43.29 * Figures in these columns are normed to account for actual percentage of females in the student body. In 1993-94, women accounted for 51.14 percent of undergraduates. For 1994-95 the number is 51.69 percent.

    Athletic Interest and Ability of Brown Students

    Brown University hired a leading national research firm to conduct an independent random survey of current Brown students to determine student interest in varsity athletics. A random sample of 500 students who were enrolled at the time was drawn from the University's telephone directory, and those students were interviewed by phone in April of 1993.

                                                    % of Men    % of Women
    Participated in high school varsity sports         75.59         56.10 
    Lettered in high school varsity sports             64.96         49.19
    Received all-state, all-league or                  39.76         27.64
       other recognition in high school
    Offered scholarships by another                    10.24          4.47
       college or university
    Played club sports while in high school            39.92         23.97
    Participate in intramurals at Brown                23.23          7.32
    Participate in club sports at Brown                14.17         10.98

    Brown also commissioned a national statistics consulting firm to analyze copies of applications from students who matriculated at Brown in the classes of 1995 through 1998. In every class, men were more likely than women to declare an interest in varsity sports.

                      1995          1996          1997          1998        All Classes
                    %M     F%     %M    %F      %M    %F      %M    %F      %M    %F
    Interested in  57.65 46.08   50.35 44.64   52.25 40.76   51.97 40.05   53.11 42.48
    one or more
    funded sport(s)
    Interested in   3.05  1.12    4.17  1.95    5.34  1.26    4.27  2.96    4.20  1.87
    one or more
    Interested in   4.83  2.05    5.38  3.12    3.84  2.94    4.74   .49    4.69  2.95
    sport(s) not
    at Brown
    No listed      34.46 50.75   40.1  50.29   38.56 55.04   39.02 53.49   38.00 52.69

    Participation Opportunities

  • Travel Squad Limits

    The Ivy League places mandatory limits on the size of travel squads for varsity teams. If Brown defined participation opportunities as total positions available on travel squads, women athletes currently have as many as 32 unfulfilled participation opportunities. Seven women's teams have additional positions available, according to NCAA sports sponsorship statistics. By contrast, all men's teams are fully subscribed, with the exception of crew.

    Because squad sizes are highly volatile, Brown offered three different measures: Initial Squad Size (generally before the first competition), Squad Size After Deletions (taking cuts and withdrawals into account) and squad sizes as reported to the NCAA. (Numbers in parentheses indicate unused participation opportunities.)

                      Ivy League     Initial       Squad List      Sponsorship
                     Travel Squad     Squad     After Deletions     Form(NCAA)
    Basketball            15            14 (1)        14 (1)            14 (1)
    Crew                  30            26 (4)        26 (4)            25 (5)
    Cross Country         12            20            19                 8 (4)
    Fencing             10/12           12            11                10
    Field Hockey          18            42            37                25
    Gymnastics            12            13            13                12
    Ice Hockey          20/22           22            21                20
    Lacrosse              26            37            32                25 (1)
    Soccer                18            22            22                22 
    Softball              20            18 (2)        17 (3)            17 (3)
    Squash                10            16            16                12
    Swimming/Diving       26            30            28                26
    Tennis                10            13            10                10
    Indoor Track        38/44           42            38                38
    Outdoor Track         46            42 (4)        34 (12)           34 (12)
    Volleyball            15            12 (3)         9 (6)             9 (6)
       TOTALS          326/336         381 (14)      347 (26)          307 (32)

    (Fencing and indoor track allow larger travel squads when more than two schools compete in a meet. Ice hockey allows a larger travel squad when games are played in successive weekends, but only 20 players may dress for competition. The table above uses the larger figure. All figures are for the 1993-94 season.)

  • Demonstrated team capacity

    Over the years, the University has supported teams of varying sizes. The largest size for each team in recent years can be taken as a measure of demonstrated capacity. Using that as a definition of total participation opportunities, women athletes currently have more than 93 unused varsity opportunities (numbers in parentheses indicate unused participation opportunities).

    Maximum Squad Sponsorship 1986-87 - 1993-94 Form (NCAA) Basketball 15 14 (1) Crew 30 25 (5) Cross Country 17 8 (9) Fencing 20 10 (10) Field Hockey 38 25 (13) Gymnastics 13 12 (1) Ice Hockey 22 20 (2) Lacrosse 36 25 (11) Soccer 26 22 (4) Softball 22 17 (5) Squash 14 12 (2) Swimming/Diving 32 26 (6) Tennis 10 10 Track 52 34 (18) Volleyball 15 9 (6)

    TOTALS 362 269 (93)

  • Team Sizes in Matched Sports

    Another way of calculating participation opportunities is to consider squad sizes in sports where men's and women's teams could be expected to have equal numbers of participants - men's and women's basketball or tennis, for example. If women's teams had as many participants as men's teams in matched sports, women athletes currently have 85 unused varsity participation opportunities (numbers in parentheses indicate unused participation opportunities).

                              Men's 1993-94     Women's 1993-94
                               Squad Size         Squad Size
    Baseball/Spotball              28                17 (11)
    Basketball                     15                14 (1)
    Crew                           30                25 (5)
    Cross Country                  12                 8 (4)
    Fencing                        18                10 (8)
    Ice Hockey                     25                20 (5)
    Lacrosse                       41                25 (16)
    Soccer                         30                22 (8) 
    Squash                         26                26 
    Swimming/Diving                13                10 (3) 
    Tennis                         47                38 (9)
    Indoor Track                   47                34 (13)

    TOTALS 346 261 (85)

    Meeting the Interests of Women Athletes at Brown

    Brown University offers 18 intercollegiate varsity sports for women - one of the broadest arrays of varsity opportunity for women offered by any NCAA Division I school in the country. The Brown program includes women's teams in every sport offered by at least 1 percent of Division I schools in the East.

    "The plaintiffs have introduced no evidence that women are interested in athletic participation at the same rate as men," Connolly said, "nor have they explained why women's teams cannot maintain their squads either at historical capacities or at sizes equal to corresponding men's teams. Given the breadth of Brown's current varsity program and the number of unused varsity opportunities already available to women, any suggestion that Brown should provide additional teams for women is nonsensical, even punitive."

    Connolly also pointed out that in cases at other schools the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, which enforces Title IX provisions, has ruled that differences of as much as 7 percent between the percentages of women on varsity teams and in the student body satisfy Title IX's "substantially proportionate" requirement and are not discriminatory. In the current academic year, women make up approximately 51 percent of Brown's student body and are expected to account for as much as 43 percent of varsity athletes.

    "As it stands, Brown's projected participation rates for the current year approach OCR's 7-percent range," Ledbetter said. "If women athletes take better advantage of existing participation opportunities or if the University places upper limits on the size of men's teams, Brown could easily meet the plaintiffs' own definition of compliance, which is based on achieving numerical parity rather than accommodating the relative athletic interests and abilities of men and women."

    Brown, which already offers 34 intercollegiate varsity teams (more than twice the national average), has always contended that such measures should not be necesary in order to comply with Title IX, Ledbetter said.