Office for Civil Rights Annual Report to Congress FY 2003

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Secretary of Education’s Commission on Opportunity in Athletics

The Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights served as an ex officio member of the Secretary of Education's Commission on Opportunity in Athletics, composed of representatives of athletes, educators, coaches and other interested parties. The Commission was charged with examining the enforcement of Title IX and making recommendations to increase athletic opportunities for all students. The Commission held town hall meetings across the country, receiving testimony from over 50 expert witnesses and 150 members of the public. On February 26, 2003, the Commission presented its final report to Secretary Paige. The report is entitled "Open to All: Title IX at 30," and contains a number of factual findings and recommendations for improving and strengthening the enforcement of Title IX.

"OCR [investigators] were very professional and extremely competent…[OCR's investigation] turned out to be very worthwhile. The [investigation] was very thorough and it was extremely helpful in helping us with our Title IX programming…[OCR] didn't intimidate the coaches or the students they interviewed. They would also explain why they were looking…The whole process was surprisingly easy."

Statement of a university athletics director
published in an April 2003 professional journal

With the Commission's report in mind, in July 2003, OCR mailed "Dear Colleague" letters to education leaders at 6,600 postsecondary education institutions. The letter reaffirms the flexibility given to educational institutions in ensuring their athletics programs are operated free from discrimination on the basis of sex. The document also clarifies that nothing in the Title IX statute requires the cutting or reduction of teams in order to demonstrate compliance with Title IX and that the elimination of teams is a disfavored practice.

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Last Modified: 09/25/2018