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CSC Study on NCAA Soccer Highlights Opportunity Gap Between Male and Female Players

Growth of male teams stifled by Title IX's gender quota

Contact: Eric McErlain
202-657-5877

June 10, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. - June 10, 2010 - A study by the College Sports Council (CSC) released on the eve of the 2010 World Cup reveals apparent disparate treatment of male soccer players by NCAA Division I schools.

"This study graphically depicts the tremendous disparity of opportunity between male and female soccer players because of Title IX's gender quota and NCAA policies," said Eric Pearson, Chairman of the CSC.  "When it comes to Division I scholarships, female soccer players enjoy more than a 2-1 advantage over their male counterparts," Pearson said.

According to an analysis of the NCAA's own published data for the academic years of 1995-96 through 2008-09, women's college soccer reached rough parity with men in number of teams in Division I in the 1995-96 academic year (197 men's teams vs. 187 women's teams) and rough parity in total number of athletes in the 1996-97 academic year (5,043 women vs. 4,966 men).

The following data points are taken directly from the NCAA's own participation report for the 2008-09 academic year:

  • There are 310 women's soccer teams, however, there are only 197 men's teams (the same number as in 1995-96);
  • There are 8,117 female players in Division I, but just 5,607 male players;
  • Overall, 93.1% of Division I athletic programs offer women's soccer, but just 59.2% of all Division I programs offer men's soccer.

The disparity in the number of possible scholarships in Division I is also staggering.  According to NCAA rules, men's Division I soccer teams are limited to a maximum of 9.9 scholarships, while women's teams are allowed up to 14.  When considered across all of Division I, that means that the maximum number of possible scholarships offered to women in the sport in Division I outnumber those available to men by a ratio of greater than 2-1 (4340 to 1950.3).

In 1996, the US Office of Civil Rights declared Title IXs proportionality test a safe harbor for compliance.  "This study clearly illustrates the negative impact of the gender quota on mens soccer," said Pearson, since 1996 when proportionality became a safe harbor for Title IX compliance, the growth of NCAA male soccer teams and players has leveled off. 

According to the latest participation data from the National Federation of State High School Associations, almost 384,000 boys and 345,000 girls participated in soccer in the nation's high schools in the 2008-09 academic year.  However, the odds against obtaining a Division I college scholarship for men are far longer (197-1) than they are for women (79-1).

While the numbers are alarming, there are other broader implications:

  • When it comes to choosing schools, male athletes have far fewer choices.  In the state of Texas, more than 27,000 boys play high school soccer, yet only a single school, Southern Methodist University, offers a Division I program.  Traditional sports powers like the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M don't have varsity soccer programs for men (though both sponsor Division I programs for women.)
  • Gender quota activists are working to impose Title IXs proportionality compliance requirement on America's high schools. In many cases, schools have found that the easiest way of complying with proportionality is to limit male participation rates. In 2008-9 about 4.4 million boys and 3.1 million girls participated in high school sports. In order to create a 50-50 gender ratio of athletes, over 1 million boys would need to be eliminated.

The study is the fourth in a series that the CSC has published since 2007: 

Research Note: The source data for this study was obtained from the NCAA ("1981-82-2008-09 NCAA Sports Sponsorship and Participation Rate Report" and "2008-09 NCAA Division I Manual") and the National Federation of State High School Associations using the 2008-09 academic year as a common baseline. The figure for maximum allowable scholarships was obtained by multiplying the number of Division I soccer teams by the scholarship limits set out by the NCAA in the 2008-09 Division I Manual. Please note, not all NCAA institutions fully fund their programs to the NCAA Division I Scholarship Limits. For example, Ivy League institutions do not award athletic scholarships, though many athletes at those institutions do receive some form of financial aid.

Click here for charts and supporting data.

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