As Title IX approaches its 50th anniversary, the state of its application to athletic departments within federally funded schools at the secondary and postsecondary levels evokes the expression “the more things change, the more things stay the same.” Title IX has been credited with successfully addressing sexual stereotypes that generally limited opportunities and created barriers for students to realize their full potential as athletes, citizens, parents, scholars, and workers (Buzuvis, 2012). As much as the educational landscape has changed as a result of Title IX, there remains a concern that schools do not have the mechanisms in place to ensure compliance five decades after the law was passed. The purpose of this study was to examine what college athletes know about Title IX and how they come to know it through a survey instrument comprised of five open-ended questions. Consistent with previous studies of coaches, athletics administrators, educators, and athletes, nearly 50% of the college athletes participating in this study did not know what Title IX was. For the remaining 50%, their perceptions of Title IX reveal large gaps in foundational understandings of what Title IX requires and how it works. The words of the respondents offer a window into their understandings and relationship with Title IX which cover a full spectrum from “it opens up the door for everyone” and “gives female athletes the support they need to succeed” to it results in an “illogical” way to achieve fairness.
Staurowsky is with the Department of Sport Management, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA. Zonder is with the Dept. of Sport Management/Business Administration, Adrian College, Adrian, MI. Riemer is with the School of Health Promotion and Human Performance, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI.