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Field Hockey Coach Nancy Cole: Feeling The Heat From Filing A Title IX Complaint

But when people do go to court, the pattern of decisions suggest Title IX is still needed. Plaintiffs are undefeated in more than 50 sports- related Title IX cases in the past eight years, according to the Women's Sports Foundation.

Think about that for a moment: For eight years, the courts have never sided with the defendant in a Title IX case. Yet the Office of Civil Rights has never found cause to withhold funds in a single case that crossed its desk in more than a quarter-century.

"It's ridiculous," said Neena Chawdry of the National Women's Law Center.

It is perhaps indicative of the OCR's attitude, perhaps not, that a reporter's recent calls to OCR spokesman Roger Murphey in Washington, requesting the OCR's ruling on Cole's case, were met with the opening remark, "What is it, a slow news day in New York?" Or a few days later, after a renewed request for the information, an exasperated: "Why are you nitpicking about this? It's late in the day!"

In the six-month wait for the OCR to rule on her case, Cole felt a constant need to remind her colleagues, "What I'm arguing for is for girls; it's not against boys."

Kazaks, who pointed out that his wife and 11-year-old daughter are athletes - "How could anyone say I'm not a supporter of women's sports?" he asked - nonetheless admitted he has felt conflicted. "I had to stick up for my 50. My 50 guys. Our football program is fighting for its own survival."

The debate gained new currency when the Bush Administration took office earlier this year and hinted that it might be time to re-examine Title IX. That came as welcome news to critics who claim the law isn't being used to protect women anymore-it's being used to practice reverse discrimination against men. And that, those critics say, is just not fair.

Title IX critics frequently claim women's gains in sports have come at the expense of men, and they often cite anecdotal evidence: UCLA's highly publicized decision to cut its storied gymnastics and swimming squads; Providence College's decision to drop baseball.

But by any national comprehensive measure -sports participation opportunities, scholarships available, jobs or spending on men's vs. women's athletics-men's complaints about being systematically discriminated against in sports still appear groundless.

In the post-Title IX era, men's sports participation numbers have actually grown even as women's participation has boomed at all levels.

Men still receive more athletic scholarships, they still own most of the coaching and athletic director jobs, they still earn more on average than their female counterparts.

Contrary to the claim that Title IX has led to the wholesale slashing of men's programs, a just-released study on gender equity by the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) shows that though there were more women's teams at the college level by 1998-99 (9,479 to 9,149 for men), male college athletes still outnumbered the women (232,000 to 163,000).

The same federal government study also found that from 1981-99, men's college teams actually increased by 36 teams, while women gained 3, 784 teams of their own.

All of which means there is no Title IX-related carnage of men' s teams going on. Not at the college level.

And not at Centereach, which will add two middle school football teams as well as a districtwide girls gymnastics team for the 2001-02 school year.

So why do supporters of men's sports continue to feel threatened or unpersuaded even when the statistics are presented to them? What are coaches such as Quitoni or Kazaks really reacting to?

Laurie Priest, the athletic director at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, has an educated guess. Priest had the rare job of enforcing Title IX in reverse at her previous job at Marymount College in Virginia when Marymount went from an all- women's institution to coed. Priest says although she made every detail of the brand-new men's program exactly the same as the women's, right down to buying new jockstraps for the men when the women got new sports bras, some of her men's coaches kept complaining: "That's just not fair! That's just not fair!"