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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, January 31, 2003

UH lauds Title IX panel

 •  Changes advised in women's athletics
 •  Ferd Lewis: Landmark legislation survives rough test

Advertiser Staff

No major change is good when it comes to yesterday's decision by a Bush Administration advisory commission to recommend rejection of major overhauls to the Title IX gender equity law, according to athletes and officials at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa.

Although some recommendations passed that could change the formula for determining proportionality, "they will only have a slight impact," said Marilyn Moniz-Kaho'ohanohano, UH's senior woman administrator. "There were no fundamental changes."

UH women's soccer player Arlene DeVitt, a three-time, all-conference player from Kapa'a High, said, "I'm for (the overhaul) not passing; we should be equal. If there was no Title IX, I wouldn't have the opportunity for free school. I would be back on Kaua'i scrubbing toilets or something. In this day and age, you need a college degree to get anywhere."

Said Olivia Smoody, a junior high jumper from Kelowna, British Columbia: "I simply wouldn't be here without Title IX. I would've taken out loans and grants and still gone to college, but I wouldn't have been in Hawai'i and I probably wouldn't still be competing in track and field. There are probably little girls out there who dream of coming to UH — for volleyball, or maybe even track now — who may not have had that opportunity if full Title IX compliance as it is now wasn't enforced."

A sharply divided commission voted for modest changes to the 1972 gender-equity legislation authored by the late Patsy Mink, which has substantially increased the number of female athletes.

Title IX prohibits gender discrimination in programs that receive federal money. Its effect has been profound with high school participation among girls increasing from 294,000 to

2.8 million from 1971 to 2002. The number of women in college sports increased five-fold during the same time frame.

"I am pleased to see the Paige Commission recommended no major change to the Patsy Mink Act (Title IX) regarding participating opportunities," Moniz-Kaho'ohanohano said. "The law was passed to ensure that men and women have equal opportunities to participate, equal treatment, and receive the same benefits. Neither gender should be denied the benefits of participating and that is what our mission and focus should be in making that possible for our students."

Said UH athletic director Herman Frazier: "I've been asked 'What would you do if they relaxed Title IX.' I said it wouldn't be my decision. It would be the institution's decision. Whatever the institution wants to do, that is what we'll do."

The law was clarified in 1979 with the introduction of the "three-prong" test, which gave schools the option of meeting any single element to be in compliance:

• A school's male-female athlete ratio must be "substantially proportionate" to its male-female enrollment.

• The school must show an ongoing history of broadening opportunities for women.

• A school must show that it is "fully and effectively" accommodating the interests and abilities of women.

At UH, the female-male enrollment ratio is almost identical to the female-male student athlete ratio, according to 2003 projections provided by Moniz-Kaho'ohanohano. Females are projected to make up 55 to 56 percent of the UH-Manoa enrollment and 54.2 percent of the student-athletes. The number of athletic opportunities for females was 47.2 in 2002. For 2003, there will be 200 female student-athletes and 239 male student-athletes, according to Moniz-Kaho'ohanohano.

"We are moving in the right direction, albeit slowly, in providing these opportunities for women to play," Moniz-Kaho-'ohanohano said.

The Commission on Opportunity in Athletics considered two dozen recommendations for Title IX in two days. The recommendation for a 50-50 female-male split instead of proportionality to a school's female-male enrollment was deadlocked 7-7. The recommendation to eliminate the proportionality requirement was voted down, 11-4.

While female sports were experiencing a boom, the number of male sports — though not necessarily male athletes — was taking a hit. About 400 men's college teams were eliminated during the 1990s as schools attempted to meet Title IX standards. Wrestling took such a blow that the National Wrestling Coaches Association has filed suit, claiming that the first prong has evolved into a quota system.

"This is not the first challenge, nor will it be the last," said Moniz-Kaho'ohanohano. "Title IX is not the culprit or to blame, neither is the wrestling coalition. They are fighting for survival. "

Ferd Lewis, Casey McGuire-Turcotte, Stephen Tsai and Leila Wai contributed to this report.

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