Seven years after Title 9 became law, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare issued the final standards yesterday aimed at ending sex discrimination in college sports programs.
The major effect of the final policies, published in Saturday's Washington Post, probably will be the need for colleges to reappraise their spending to comply with the equal opportunity mandate of the law.
Although HEW issued regulations for implementing the law in 1975, it has gone unenforced while HEW developed "interpretations," or clarifications, of certain sections of the regulations.
HEW Secretary Patricia Roberts Harris said at a press conference yesterday that she does not anticipate further congressional action on the issue because HEW was issuing interpretations of policy and not new regulations.
The ultmate enforcement of the regulations would fall to the new Department of Education.
Many colleges will have to increase the amount they spend on athletic scholarships for women and that money may have to come from the men's programs if new sources of revenue cannot be found.
The sport thay may be affected most directly is football, which now has a disproportionate share of scholarships -- 95 per team -- allowed under men's rules.
Initial reaction was favorable from the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women and less than favorable from the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The two groups are the major governing bodies for women's and men's intercollegiate sports.
Walter Byers, executive director of the NCAA, said in a statement from Shawnee Mission, Kan., that he believed the new policy interpretation "will not stand a legal test nor the test of time. The legitimacy of HEW's technique in this instance is subject to serious question, since this new policy interpretation changes the implementation regulation which has been in effect for some four years."
As in the past, final policies do not require equal spending and do not exempt "revenue-producing" sports.
Harris was applauded loudly yesterday by members of women's organizations after she released the final policy interpretations outlining how HEW plans to enforce the law. The department plans to use about 120 investigators to look into complaints.
Title 9 bars sex discrimination in educational programs and activities receiving federal aid. Failure to comply can lead to a loss of funds.
Holding up a picutre of the 1885 Wellesley crew team, Harris said, "For those who believe that women's interest in athletics is new, I would say that it goes back at least until 1885."
"So, almost 100 years later, the government has agreed that women are entitled to equality of opportunity in athletics."
On the scholarship issue, the first of three issues dealt with in yesterday's announcement of policy, Harris noted that scholarships have traditionally been used to build athletic programs and provide educational opportunities for athletes.
"Traditionally, at most schools, these opportunities have been more accessible to male athletes than to female athletes," Harris said, adding that the scholarship policy is based on a "proportionality" test tied to the number of participating athletes.It is the only part of previous policy proposals that still has a per capita spending formula.
The other two issues HEW will study in assessing compliance are benefits and opportunties provided through the athletic programs, and the accommodation of athletic interests and abilities of all students.
These two issues will be used as a gauge when studying such items as equipment sceduling, housing and playing facilities, traveling costs, coaching opportunities and medical care, among other benefits.
"HEW will evaluate the availability of those benefits, the quality and nature of those benefits and how the provision of such services affects the treatment and future opportunities of athletes," Harris said.
"It is important to note," she continued, "that HEW is not requiring that benefits -- such as locker facilities or coaching staffs -- be identical. We will, however, compare programs to determine whether policies and practices provide equivalent opportunities throughout the men's and women's sports programs."
Carole L. Mushier, AIAW president, said, "The policies appear to strike a reasonalbe and workable balance between the legal and moral obligations of institutions to provide equal opportunity for female student athletes and the need to permit each institution to design and implement its own nondiscriminatory athletic program."