California Institutions Should Review Title IX Compliance in Athletics ASAP

By:  Natasha J. Baker
Hirschfeld Kraemer LLP
San Francisco, CA

On January 13, 2014, Mr. Mark Rossmiller, an individual with no apparent connection to OCR or any of the schools in question, filed a total of 121 complaints against California colleges and universities with the OCR San Francisco office, alleging that they were not in compliance with the athletic participation requirements of Title IX. The complaints allege that the institutions are discriminating against female students in intercollegiate athletics by not providing equal athletic opportunities for members of both sexes.   In the complaints, Mr. Rossmiller provided athletic participation data from the Equity in Athletic Disclosure Act reports for the 2007 to 2013 academic years. With regard to each institution, he alleged that the participation data was sufficient to establish that the institutions did not provide substantially proportional opportunities for female students to participate in athletics, and that the participation gap was sufficient to establish that these institutions do not have a history and continuing practice of expanding programs for female students under parts 1 and 2 of OCR’s three-part test for determining Title IX compliance. He further alleged that these institutions failed to satisfy part 3 of the three-part test because they cannot demonstrate that they are fully and effectively accommodating female students’ interests and abilities in athletics.

In response, OCR SF asked Mr. Rossmiller to provide additional information to evaluate the complaints, specifically additional information that the circumstances demonstrate that female students at these institutions were not provided equal opportunities to participate in intercollegiate athletics. OCR SF asked Mr. Rossmiller to provide them with this additional information by March 11.   OCR SF dismissed the case on March 11, finding that the data Mr. Rossmiller provided was not recent and therefore was untimely.

Mr. Rossmiller then filed a complaint against OCR SF and the institutions with the DOJ Civil Rights Division, Department of Educational Opportunities, alleging that OCR SF failed to fully investigate his claims or enforce violations of Title IX regulations.

Currently, there is no response from the DOJ regarding whether they will conduct an investigation and instruct OCR SF to perform investigations as well. We will keep you apprised of any new information we learn.

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