The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights announced today the resolution of a compliance review at Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass. The review examined whether the college discriminated against female students by denying them an equal opportunity to participate in its intercollegiate athletic program and whether it discriminated in awarding athletic scholarships, both practices which are prohibited by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. From the inception of the review, the college’s newly appointed administration worked collaboratively with OCR to ensure that prior years of inequity at the college would be reversed.
Following its investigation, OCR determined that the college’s male students were disproportionately represented in the athletic program. The college has entered into an agreement with OCR to create six new female teams, including a women’s hockey team that ultimately will compete at the Division I level. These six new teams will provide more than 80 participation opportunities for female athletes at the college, giving women athletic opportunities substantially proportional to their representation in the student body.
OCR also determined that the college was disproportionately awarding athletic financial assistance. The agreement will remedy that concern by providing for significant additional aid to female athletes over several years.
OCR will monitor the college’s compliance with this agreement. Additionally, the college will create a “Title IX Committee” to ensure the college is monitoring its progress and including its community in ensuring Title IX compliance in the years to come.
“I appreciate Merrimack College’s efforts to work cooperatively and proactively with OCR to address the practices uncovered by our investigation that disadvantage women athletes,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Russlynn Ali. “As a result, the college now has a plan to provide equity in athletic opportunities and the athletic financial assistance necessary to support its athletes. In this year marking the 40th anniversary of Title IX, a case like this reminds us how critical Title IX remains in ensuring equal opportunity for women, including in athletics.”
The enforcement of Title IX is a top priority of the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. For more information about the Office for Civil Rights, see this Web site. For details on how OCR handles civil rights cases, visit this site.