Powerful Title IX report reveals reporting loopholes and roster manipulation in women’s college sports

The start of the women's mile finals during the Division I Men's and Women's Indoor Track and Field Championships
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A powerful new report by USA Today highlights how top U.S. colleges and universities are still falling short of complying with Title IX, the landmark law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or education program that receives funding from the federal government.

Most notable among the findings in USA Today’s comprehensive data analysis, which centered on 107 public schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision during the 2018-19 school year, was widespread use of roster manipulation as well as remarkable disparities in spending on travel, equipment and recruiting for women’s teams vs. their male counterparts.

Passed 50 years ago this June as part of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the pivotal 37-word sentence reads: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Related: Fifty years later, Title IX slogan ‘Give women a sporting chance’ still propels advocates

For those charged with implementing Title IX, it became obvious that one clear way to close the gender gap at the collegiate level was to require schools to provide equitable opportunities for women and men to play sports. However, USA Today found that schools have been abusing the accepted rules in ways that allow them “to comply with the letter of the law while violating its spirit.”

According to the report, the schools collectively added more than 3,600 additional participation “opportunities” for female athletes during the 2018-19 academic year despite not adding one new women’s team to any athletic program. Schools accomplished this by counting participants in ways that inflate women’s rosters:

  • Double- and triple-counting athletes: Schools in the analysis created 2,252 women’s roster spots thanks to a controversial counting method, permitted by the U.S. Department of Education, which oversees Title IX compliance and allows schools to count athletes more than once if they compete in more than one sport. One common example is in track and field, where an athlete that competes in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track can be counted as three participation opportunities to the federal government.
  • Padding women’s rowing rosters: Twenty-seven schools presented rosters with more athletes than needed, with teams averaging 87 women – more than double the maximum number allowed at most conference championships. Based on roster caps set in federal lawsuits at two Division I rowing programs, USA Today counted at least 838 female rowers – more than one-third – filled unnecessary roster spots.
  • Counting male practice players: At least one of every four women’s basketball players reported by schools to the federal government were actually men. Of the 107 schools surveyed, 52 of them counted at least 601 men as female participants who scrimmage with women’s basketball teams.

On the money front, the USA Today analysis found that for every dollar that schools spent on travel, equipment and recruiting for men’s teams, they spent just 71 cents on women. Over two seasons (2018-19 and 2019-20), that added up to $125 million more spent on men than women.

USA Today focused solely on sports with comparable men’s and women’s squads – basketball, baseball and softball, golf, soccer, swimming and diving, and tennis – and found that spending on soccer and swimming was roughly equal, while the greatest disparities were found in basketball, where coaches and athletic departments spent 63 cents on women for every dollar spent on men.

Some notable spending numbers:

  • Of the 107 schools, only two – University of Hawaii and University of Toledo – spent more on travel for its women’s basketball teams; 19 schools spent at least $1 million more on the men than the women.
  • Schools collectively spent $8.7 million (39 percent) more on equipment for men’s basketball than for the women.
  • On recruiting, schools spent $19 million (72 percent) more on recruiting for its men’s basketball programs than for the women’s programs. For example, Indiana University spent $1.2 million for its men’s basketball team compared to $216,513 spent for the women’s team.

However, compliance with Title IX is not based on specific teams but rather on a school’s entire athletic department, and the U.S. Department of Education only requires that spending on similar teams be equitable, which does not mean equal.

The overall result is a misleading picture that makes schools look better than they are at providing equitable playing opportunities for women. Additionally, the loopholes exposed by USA Today’s report reveal it’s the reporting guidelines themselves that need to be scrutinized more closely. In particular, the fact that Title IX compliance hinges on roster spots and not distinct athletes should be reexamined.

“If people, meaning athletic administrators and college presidents, wanted to be in compliance with Title IX because it was the right thing to do, they would’ve done it already,” said Nicole LaVoi, director of the University of Minnesota’s Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport, via USA Today.

“They’ve had 50 years to figure it out,” she added. “So there’s no, ‘Well just give us time. We’ll figure it out.’ No, they’ve had 50 years. And so many schools are still struggling with this.”

USA Today, whose team included eight reporters, worked in collaboration with the Knight-Newhouse Data project at Syracuse University for the report. Its comprehensive data analysis compared athletic participation numbers reported by schools to the U.S. Department of Education against four different data sources: NCAA reports, online rosters, internal rosters (called “squad lists”) and reams of competition results. Additionally, reporters interviewed 51 Title IX experts and attorneys, lawmakers, athletes, coaches and athletic department administrators.

The full USA Today report can be found here.

Kaillie Humphries elevates another fresh U.S. face to podium status in two-woman bobsled World Cup

Kaillie Humphries of USA, Kaysha Love of USA in action at the 2 women's bobsleigh during Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
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PARK CITY, UTAH – Kaillie Humphries extended her podium streak on Saturday at the IBSF World Cup, where she and U.S. push athlete Jasmine Jones finished third in the two-woman bobsled.

The third-place finish in Park City marked the sixth podium for Humphries at the Park City track, which hosted the 2002 Olympics, and was Jones’ career-first World Cup podium in just her second World Cup start.

“This is our first race together, so really excited about that,” said the 37-year-old Humphries, considered the greatest female driver in history with three Olympic gold medals (2010, 2014 and 2022) and five world championships titles. She earned her 29th career World Cup win on Friday in Park City in the women’s monobob.

“Definitely a work in progress. … The runs weren’t perfect, but I’m really happy with our starts, happy with our drives minus a few little mistakes. It’s a good starting point, and we’ll look to grow from here.”

Humphries and Jones finished with a combined, two-run time of 1:37.69, 0.32 behind winners Kim Kalicki and brakewoman Leonie Fiebig of Germany at 1:37.37. Fellow Germans Laura Nolte and Lena Neunecker were second at 0.23 back.

Kalicki and Fiebig broke a 16-year-old track record with their first run, laying down a time of 48.60 seconds and besting the time set by Americans Shauna Rohbock and Valerie Fleming – the 2006 Olympic silver medalists – in December 2006 (48.73). It also marked the second straight victory for Kalicki, who’s won five career World Cup titles including last week’s two-woman bobsled race in Whistler, Canada.

“I was hoping Kaillie would get [the record],” said Rohbock, who is now a U.S. team coach and was on hand to see her record fall. “That first run there, she had that little skid in the bottom, so that didn’t help, but Kailee’s always putting up a great performance. And Jasmine, another great brakewoman, so we’re really lucky that we have that depth.”

For Team USA, it marked the second straight week that a fresh face earned her first podium finish while competing with Humphries. Last week in Whistler, push athlete Emily Renna and Humphries placed third in Renna’s first-ever World Cup appearance.

MORE IBSF WORLD CUP COVERAGE: Kelly Curtis notches career-best finish with top five at Park City skeleton World Cup

“Being able to race with her was really special,” said the 29-year-old Renna, who was a college track athlete at University of Rhode Island. “It’s really nice to be around seasoned veterans. It definitely makes you feel better in the back sled with you when you’ve got a good pilot who knows the track.”

Renna finished in eighth place in Park City with 12-year U.S. team veteran and pilot Nicole Vogt (1:39.04). Vogt partnered with Jones in her first World Cup last week where they finished seventh in Whistler, 1.33 seconds behind winners Kalicki and German teammate Anabel Galander.

“To have an opportunity to be with Kaillie in my World Cup debut – it’s exciting,” said the 26-year-old Jones, who was a collegiate track and field athlete at Eastern Michigan. “I just feel like I have so much more in the tank to give, and I’m just hungry for it.”

Jones is particularly gratified with her performance after returning full-time to bobsled less than 18 months ago following the birth of her daughter, Jade Quinn Jones, in February 2021. The Greensburg, Pa., native returned to training just five months postpartum, having sat out the 2020-21 season. She competed on the North American Cup last year, finishing the season with a win (the third NA Cup title of her career) and a third place in Lake Placid.

“I’m thankful,” said Jones. “Opportunity is the main thing, and I just feel blessed to have my first World Cup podium. I’m screaming on the inside. I may not show it, but I am jumping for joy because I’m just that excited and happy to have this accomplishment.”

She admits, however, it’s not always easy to compete balance a full-time competitive career with being a mom.

“Sometimes it’s a struggle being away from my daughter,” said Jones, whose mom takes care of Jade while she travels. “I try to get my facetimes in every night and just know that when I’m pushing, I’m doing it for her. Hopefully sometime in the future I’ll have her around on the sidelines cheering me on, and that’s my main motivation – that this is for her.”

The BMW IBSF World Cup continues its North American swing Dec. 16-18 in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Kaillie Humphries faces IVF journey head on — and collects monobob World Cup win along the way

Gold medallist Kaillie Humphries of Team United States celebrates during the Women's Monobob.
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PARK CITY, UTAH — Kaillie Humphries knew the quest to start a family would impact her 2022-23 season, but it’s certainly not slowing down Team USA’s reigning monobob Olympic gold medalist, who captured her first World Cup title in the discipline on Friday.

The 37-year-old Humphries, considered the greatest female driver in history with three Olympic golds (2010, 2014 and 2022) and five world championships, earned her 29th career World Cup win and her third victory on the Park City track, where she won the two-woman bobsled competitions in 2012 and 2016. Competing in Utah – as well as North American World Cup stops in Whistler last week and in Lake Placid, N.Y., on Dec. 17-18 – is one of the reasons that Humphries pushed pause on her journey to motherhood.

“I’m excited,” Humphries said following the win, marking her second straight podium in monobob following a third-place finish last week in Whistler. “I was excited for this year before it started. It’s part and parcel of why my husband and I delayed the IVF process and starting a family this season. To be able to be back in North America and have the first half of the season here – it’s been a long time since we’ve had that, so I wanted to be able to compete and it feels awesome.”

That’s not to say the leadup to this season has been without its share of hiccups. In fact, Humphries admits that following the Beijing Olympics, she had hoped to get pregnant immediately, but she and husband Travis Armbruster had to pivot when a diagnosis of stage 4 endometriosis made it clear that in vitro fertilization would be the best path for pregnancy.

“Right after the Olympics, I was like, ‘We’re going to get pregnant; it’s gonna be all good,’” she said. “I thought, my body has always performed, and it wasn’t going to be an issue. Fast forward to I find out we have to do IVF. We do the first egg retrieval, and it doesn’t go as well as I had hoped — which anybody that’s done this process knows, you can’t control any aspect of it. And so having to do a second round of egg retrieval, …it pushed everything back.”

What’s more, it brought Humphries’ training to a standstill at times, when she would have to limit all physical activity during the three-week period surrounding the egg-retrieval process.

“It impacted my training coming into this year a lot,” she says, “but I also think it definitely reset my hormones, which turns out I needed. I don’t think was a bad thing. I knew coming into this year, I wasn’t going to be in the same shape as I have been in the past, and I had to make peace with that. I know that each and every race I’m racing myself into shape, and each race is a preparation for January’s World Championships.”

Humphries also chose to share her IVF journey publicly, and she’s documented every step of the way, believing that her story makes it less scary not just for her but also for other women and female athletes who might be facing the same thing.

MORE IBSF WORLD CUP: Kelly Curtis notches career-best finish with top five at Park City skeleton World Cup

“My husband and I weren’t sure that we wanted to share it at first,” she admits. “But I felt it was important just to showcase this. I have nothing to hide. And as much as there are parts of me certain days when I think, ‘What’s wrong with me?’ At the end of the day, I know I’m not alone in this.

“It’s important, I do have a voice, and I want other people to know, as an Olympic gold medalist, if it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody. Infertility exists in the female body, and it’s important that I talk about it in my journey and hopefully that’s inspired other people.”

She says she’s received an outpouring of support, which has been particularly gratifying as she continues to put a painful breakup with Team Canada in the rearview mirror. Humphries, who was born in Calgary, competed for Canada for 16 years, winning three Olympic medals including a bronze in Pyeongchang in 2018. But the relationship came to an abrupt end later just five months after the 2018 Games, after Humphries alleged emotional and mental harassment by a former coach.

Winning a gold medal in Beijing just two months after her U.S. citizenship was finalized proved to be turning point for Humphries, who commemorated the milestone with two new tattoos. She first added the date of her win – Feb. 14, 2022 – to the back of her left hand and a larger rose and skull illustration to the back of her right knee and calf, all of which commemorate her triumph over that darker period.

“The skull represents a rebirth and a growth, overcoming challenges and/or obstacles and turning something negative into something positive,” explains Humphries, who says she chose the rose because it’s the national flower of the U.S. as well as a symbol of love won or lost. She notes that she has “an actual Olympic one” planned for August 2024, which is when her favorite tattoo artist is next available.

Humphries has also found the silver lining in her IVF journey, as the competition season has been a welcome break from some of the self-imposed pressure.

“By pushing pause for four or five months and competing, it allowed me mentally to know that we can go into all of next summer and all winter focusing on just doing the actual embryo transfers and having a good pregnancy,” she says. “I don’t feel stressed to try and get pregnant right away. I felt like I was becoming competitive with myself, wondering why isn’t this working? Why can’t I do this? I tried to control too many things, and I started to get really frustrated. Mentally, it was hard. So, by pushing pause, going back to what I know — which is the sport, which is what I love – it’s allowed me to control a little bit of my future.”

Humphries’ season continues Saturday as the IBSF World Cup from Park City concludes with the two-woman bobsleigh.