Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

1996-1997 index

Distributed April 21, 1997
Contact: Mark Nickel

A Title IX compliance plan

Brown files a plan to meet court's gender ratio requirements for athletics

Brown University has filed a Title IX compliance plan with the District Court in a case alleging gender bias in athletics. Brown hopes to meet the District Court's requirements for gender proportionality without adding any University-funded teams or eliminating any men's teams.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- In a document filed with the U.S. District Court today (Monday, April 21, 1997), Brown University has described a plan to adjust the ratio of women to men among its varsity athletes in order to mirror as closely as possible the overall gender ratio of the undergraduate student body. The District Court established "substantial mirroring" as a Title IX compliance goal in an opinion issued March 29, 1995, after a three-month trial involving allegations of gender bias in athletics.

Brown filed its plan in response to the First Circuit Court of Appeals, which struck down a remedy that had been ordered by the District Court. Rather than require Brown to provide new funding for additional University-funded teams, as the District Court had proposed, the First Circuit affirmed Brown's right to devise its own compliance plan.

To achieve substantial mirroring of gender ratios between athletes and the overall student body, Brown's plan calls for:

Editors: A copy of Brown's compliance plan as submitted to the court is available from the News Bureau by fax or through the News Bureau web site.

"Brown offers one of the widest arrays of varsity teams in the nation - 17 women's teams, 16 men's teams and two coed teams," said Laura Freid, executive vice president for external affairs. "Neither our main athletic facilities nor the University's budget can support additional teams in the few sports we do not already offer.

"We expect our compliance plan to bring the gender ratio among athletes to within one percent of the overall undergraduate ratio," Freid said. "That should certainly meet the court's substantial mirroring goal. It is the best the University can do without eliminating a men's varsity team."

Expanded opportunities

At least three factors will lead to increased participation of women athletes in the 1997-98 academic year. First, Brown announced the creation of a donor-funded varsity equestrian team last year. Although nominally a coed team, most equestrian competitors at the intercollegiate level are women. Thirty-one women competed on Brown's team during the first season. The University was able to establish an equestrian team because the funding came entirely from donors and the team did not place additional burdens on Brown's existing athletic facilities.

Second, Brown intends to establish a new lightweight women's crew within the existing crew program. Lightweight crew is an emerging sport for women and may be supported to some degree by the U.S. Olympic Committee. Funding for an additional assistant crew coach will be available, in part, because a change in Ivy League rules eliminated one assistant football coaching position. Based on the experience of other universities, Brown anticipates that at least 25 more women will compete. Because the men's and women's crew practices at the recently expanded Marston Boat House, these additional competitors will not put additional pressure on the main athletic facilities.

Third, Brown will reclassify the existing women's water polo club team as a donor-funded varsity. The Brown University Sports Foundation will raise the necessary funds to support the team and has sufficient resources to guarantee funding for the 1997-98 season. The change in status will not significantly increase demands on the facilities at the Smith Swim Center.

How the plan will work

All teams - men's and women's - will be assigned minimum squad sizes, which will be rigorously enforced. University-funded teams that repeatedly fail to attract a sufficient number participants will be reclassified as donor-funded teams; donor-funded teams with similar shortfalls will be reclassified as club sports. Such teams will continue in their new classifications until they reestablish consistently acceptable participation.

Using the previous year's participation and the established minimums as a guide, the University will calculate the number of female athletes expected to participate on varsity teams during the coming season. The permissible number of male athletes that would lead to absolute mirroring will be determined by the following equation, where everything but the number of male athletes is known:

Number of female athletes Percent of female undergraduates --------------------------- = ---------------------------------- Number of male athletes Percent of male undergraduates

For the 1997-98 season, the calculation would proceed as follows:

487 53.8 ----------------- = ------ 418 male athletes 46.2

Under the plan, Brown's intercollegiate varsity athletic program would be 53.1 percent female (487 athletes) and 46.9 percent male (431 athletes), leaving a variance of less than one percent. The University believes that such a ratio mirrors as closely as possible the undergraduate student body gender ratio as required by the District Court given the limits imposed by Brown's financial resources and existing athletic facilities and the University's goal of not eliminating any existing varsity teams.

1997-98 roster sizes under the proposed plan

Varsity Teams
1996-97 Actual
Women's 1997-98
Men's 1997-98
Men's 1997-98
   Field Hockey3636--
   Ice Hockey18223325
   Lightweight Crew-25--
   Varsity Teams
   Water Polo-161614
TOTAL Athletes429474468385

Alternative plans

In the event that the District Court does not approve the compliance plan, Brown has proposed two alternatives. The University reiterated, however, that it cannot create any additional University-funded sports under any circumstances.

The first alternative would come into play if the court chooses to differentiate between University-funded teams and donor-funded teams and to require gender balancing within those categories. Brown would propose changing one or more University-funded men's teams to donor-funded status.

The second alternative would come into play if the court required absolute rather than substantial proportionality. Because Brown does not believe further reductions to the total number of male athletes would be feasible, it would eliminate one or more men's teams.