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College Sports Council study reveals apparent scholarship discrimination by NCAA

College Sports Council Calls on NCAA to Equalize Scholarship Limits

WASHINGTON, D.C. - July 15, 2009 - The findings of a first-of-a-kind study of NCAA participation and scholarship data conducted by the College Sports Council (CSC) shows that in NCAA Division I "gender symmetric sports" (teams where both male and female athletes participate), female students are accorded far more opportunities than male students to compete and earn scholarships.

"Because only 119 schools, or less than 12% of all NCAA member institutions, offer the full 85 football scholarships, the NCAA can't use football to tackle criticism of their discrimination against male athletes in gender symmetric sports," said CSC Chairman Eric Pearson. "This new study appears to provide prima facie evidence of disparate treatment of male students by the 28% of NCAA Division I schools that don't sponsor football teams."

Findings of the study, the first of its kind to compare scholarship opportunities for men and women in NCAA Division I using the organization's own data, include:

At the NCAA Division I level, there are far more womens teams (2,653) than mens teams (2,097). The study found the greatest gender disparities in favor of women in the sports of Volleyball (313 to 21) and Soccer (300 to 195).

Overall in "gender symmetric" sports, there are far more scholarships available for women (32,656) than for men (20,206). This disparity is pronounced through virtually all "gender symmetric" sports because of NCAA scholarship limits. As a result, even in one of the only sports where there are more men's teams, golf (285 to 228), there are still more athletic scholarships available for women (1,368 to 1,282.5).

In every "gender symmetric" sport with the exception of gymnastics, men face longer odds against getting a scholarship than women. By far, the most difficult athletic scholarship to obtain at the Division I level is in men's volleyball, where there are 489 high school athletes for every full NCAA scholarship. Similar long odds exist for men competing in Track and Field/Cross-Country (221 to 1), Soccer and Water Polo (196 to 1) and Tennis (136 to 1).

Research Note: The underlying data from this study was obtained from the NCAA ("1981-82-2006-07 NCAA Sports Sponsorship and Participation Rate Report" and "2006-07 NCAA Division I Manual") and the National Federation of State High School Associations using the 2006-07 academic year as a common baseline. The figure for NCAA Division I Maximum Allowable Scholarships in Gender Symmetric Sports was obtained by multiplying the number of Division I teams in which both men and women compete by the scholarship limits set out by the NCAA in the 2006-07 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 most athletes at those institutions do receive some form of financial aid. The final chart, "The Long Odds Against Athletic Scholarships," was calculated by dividing the number of high school participants by the maximum number of scholarships available.

Click here for charts and supporting data

The College Sports Council is a national coalition of coaches, parents, athletes and alumni devoted to preserving and promoting the student athlete experience.

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