OCR Supports Western Kentucky Efforts to Address Title IX Issues

Dec. 14, 2001

Bowling Green, Ky. - The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of the Department of Education has joined with officials at Western Kentucky University to conduct a routine review of the University's Title IX compliance plan and has indicated that the University's early efforts in planning and carrying through a program to address issues relating to the federal legislation were integral to its compliance.

"We are pleased with the progress we have made in making our athletic program compliant with Title IX requirements," said Western Kentucky President Dr. Gary Ransdell. "The addition of women's soccer, softball and swimming has brought dozens of outstanding new young women to WKU. They, like our other female student athletes, are strong academically and socially and they are good competitors for Western as well. We appreciate the endorsement of the OCR."

The cooperative review was not prompted by a complaint and did not identify any concerns regarding the allocation of scholarship assistance to men and women at Western. However, the University and the OCR adopted a Resolution Agreement which provides that the institution will continue its student surveys to determine the interests and abilities of its female students and continue to monitor its student financial aid allocation.

That Resolution Agreement has been reviewed by the University's Board of Regents Executive Committee and will be considered for adoption at the meeting of the full Board on January 23, 2002. Meanwhile, officials at the OCR will also be reviewing the document for its final approval.

Title IX has identified three ways that a university can be in compliance. They are:

* the percentage of male and female athletes is substantially proportionate to their respective enrollment, or,

* show a history and continuing practice of program expansion which is responsive to the interests and abilities of its underrepresented sex, or,

* demonstrate that the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex have been fully and effectively accommodated by the present program offerings.

Western Kentucky has elected to comply with Title IX using the second and third options listed above.

The University has demonstrated a history of continuing program expansion for females with the addition of women's swimming (1996), softball (1998) and soccer (2000) in recent years. Western now supports 20 varsity sport programs - 10 men and 10 women.

And, by adding these sports, WKU has met the interests and abilities of its female students as confirmed in survey data.

WKU began work on developing a proactive compliance program in 1995 and adopted a plan of action in May, 1996. The plan called for the University to:

1) add three women's programs to its athletic offerings over a five-year period, and,

2) continue to periodically survey students to monitor interests and abilities.