WASHINGTON, D.C. - It was announced this week that the U.S. Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights will withdraw a controversial Title IX policy that allowed schools to measure the athletic interests of female students through online surveys. 

The George W. Bush administration had put the unpopular guidelines into place, which many athletics administrators felt made it too easy for schools to disregard female interest. Schools just had to conduct an online survey, and universities could count a lack of response as a lack of interest in athletics. There is usually a low response rate in such surveys, which may or may not indicate a lack of interest. 

Under the new guidelines, schools trying to demonstrate compliance with Title IX will be allowed to use surveys, but there will be a wider view. Low responses will not count alone as a lack of interest and other factors will be studied, such as participation rates in the younger age groups, and the views of administrators and coaches. 

In making the announcement, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, "There is no doubt that Title IX has dramatically increased athletic, academic, and employment opportunities for women and girls, and educational institutions have made big strides in providing equal opportunities in sports. Yet discrimination continues to exist in college athletic programs — and we should be vigilant in enforcing the law and protecting this important civil right." 

NCAA Interim President Jim Isch supported the decision and released the following statement: “The NCAA applauds the leadership of the Office of Civil Rights in rescinding the 2005 clarification and once again giving NCAA colleges and universities the opportunity to more accurately determine the interest in women’s athletics on their campuses.”

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