Foudy, de Varona refuse to sign final Title IX report

By Scott M. Reid The Orange County Register (KRT) SAN DIEGO ?Two Olympic gold medal-winning members of the federal Title IX commission will not sign the panel’s final report in a protest aimed at what they call “discriminatory” recommendations. Julie Foudy, captain of the U.S. women’s soccer team, and Olympic swimming champion Donna de Varona said they are also angered by the 70-page report’s tone, the lack of balance in the report and at a series of nationwide hearings held by the Department of Education’s 15-member Commission on Opportunity in Athletics. The commission will present Secretary of Education Rod Paige on Wednesday a final report that makes recommendations designed to make Title IX less restrictive. At Wednesday’s Washington reception, Foudy also will give Paige the minority report written by her and de Varona that reflects their and Title IX supporters’ “serious concerns” about the impact recommendations could have on the 1972 anti-discrimination law that has created athletic opportunities for millions of women. Foudy said Monday she “felt like I never had a voice” after Department of Education officials repeatedly ignored her and de Varona’s requests to hear testimony from civil rights experts and athletic directors at schools in compliance with Title IX. “To ask over and over again, can we hear from these people, can we take the next step, and to not take the next step is the frustrating part of the process because you start to feel like you’re not being heard,” said Foudy, a member of the 1996 Olympic champions and 1991 and 1999 World Cup-winning teams. “The idea behind the commission was a good one because there is great confusion about the law and its interpretations. I think in the process of doing that, we didn’t hear from the right people. “In terms of being able to hear from both sides and to have a process that was open and fair, I feel like they were off the mark on that. We never got to hear a balanced argument.” Foudy said that frustration and the concerns of her and other commissioners is not reflected in a report that three times in its first eight pages states that there is a “strong consensus” by the commission. “The tone, in our view, is very off. It never even acknowledged that there is still discrimination against women,” said Foudy, referring to a recent NCAA gender equity study that found while women make up 53 percent of undergraduate enrollment at all Division I schools, they account for 41.1 of Division I athletes. Foudy and de Varona take issue with a recommendation that would allow colleges to use surveys to determine female interest in athletics. “Every court has said it is illegal to use an instrument like an interest survey because it freezes discrimination at that place,” Foudy said. “Now this report is recommending that the Office of Civil Rights, which is in charge of preventing discrimination, use an instrument that every court has ruled actually discriminates. I could give you a million examples of that one.” ___ ‘copy 2003, The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.). Visit the Register on the World Wide Web at Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.