Hogshead-Makar reflects on 40 years of Title IX

Professor Nancy Hogshead-Makar

In April, Olympic gold medalist and Coastal Law Professor Nancy Hogshead-Makar moderated a panel of industry experts who discussed the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act — more widely known as Title IX. Now in its 40th year, the legislation generated conversation on several related topics, including the commercialization of intercollegiate athletics and athletes’ publicity rights.

Panelists included Amy Perko, executive director of the Knight Commission; Kristen Galles, civil rights attorney and plaintiff’s counsel in several key Title IX cases; and Robert Wierenga, antitrust defense counsel for the NCAA.

Hogshead-Makar, national advocate for Title IX, said the event drew a crowd of more than 100.

“It’s been a bumpy ride over the years,” she said. “The statute itself was passed 40 years ago and then re-passed in 1988. And since that time there have been several cases go to the Supreme Court.”

For years, Hoghead-Makar has been heavily involved Title IX legal action and education. She has testified in Congress numerous times, written several scholarly and lay articles, and has been a frequent guest on national news programs on the topic, including “60 Minutes,” Fox News, CNN, ESPN, NPR and network morning news programming. In 2007 Sports Illustrated magazine listed her as one of the most influential people in the 35-year history of Title IX and, in 2009, she challenged the Florida High School Athletic Association over its cuts to competitive sports and the discrimination against female athletes that resulted.

The crux of the panel discussion, she said, looked at the more recent Title IX concerns — the “train wreck” of the intercollegiate athletics commercialism and educational athletics.

“This is a runaway train,” she said. “All three panelists talked about what was going to be the breaking point.” Many industry analysts thought this tipping point should have been the Penn State sexual abuse scandal that made headlines nearly a year ago. Surprisingly, it did not create any major waves.

“You’d think it might have been a breaking point when you have an enterprise that was so concerned about having a squeaky clean reputation that it wouldn’t report boys being sexually abused,” Hogshead-Makar said. “But no fundamental changes have been made.”