PRESS RELEASE – MARCH 20, 2019
Senator Birch Bayh: A Tribute
NEW HAVEN, CONN. – On his recent passing at age 91, The Drake Group wishes to paytribute to the life and work of former Senator Birch Bayh (D-IN). His crafting and caretaking of Title IXof the Higher Education Act Amendments of 1972 changed the world of college sports moredramatically than any other piece of legislation before or since. As one source put it, “Senator Bayhcould justly be hailed as a hero on every American college and university campus.”A study in 2006 showed that women’s participation in college sports had increased by 450%.
Another study in 2008 revealed that the number of women’s teams had increased to 9,101, or 8.65 perschool, with the greatest participation (in rank order) in these sports: basketball, volleyball, soccer,cross country, and softball. According to another source, “Women’s participation in college sportshas increased more than fivefold since the law’s passage. Before Title IX, women’s sports receivedless than 2 percent of college athletic budgets; they now receive 37 percent. Also, girls in highschool sports now number over 3 million, or one out of every two girls enrolled.
But Title IX was never only about athletics. Women’s representation among law school studentshas risen from 7 percent to 43 percent; among medical school students, from 9 percent to 41percent.” And since the 1990s following a series of three Supreme Court decisions, Title IX hascome to play an increasingly important role in dealing with claims of sexual harassment and violenceon college campuses. During the Obama Administration the Office of Civil Rights in the Department ofEducation took the initiative to reinforce the use of Title IX in this way by special guidance it issued forhigher education institutions in 2011.
But far beyond the college campus the law has resulted in positive effects on women’s healthand well-being generally. “A 2006 study sponsored by the National Bureau of Economic Researchcredited the legislation with a significant increase in physical activity and improvement in weight andbody mass among adolescent girls and young women since the 1970s, lowering their risk of manymedical problems. No other American public health program can claim similar success, the study’sauthors found.” The effect on equal opportunity in education and employment more broadly hasbeen dramatic also. For example, women now make up more than half of those receivingundergraduate and graduate degrees at American colleges.
Not only was Senator Bayh the creator and lead sponsor of the law when it first passedCongress, but he also continued to be its champion in later years. As co-founder of the Women’sSports Foundation, Donna de Varona said: “In 2005, when former House Speaker Dennis Hastertconvinced President Bush to create a commission to reexamine Title IX, Bayh emerged fromretirement to ensure that the law didn’t get eviscerated.”
Powerful testimony comes from Merrily Baker, who as a young head of women’s athletics atPrinceton was chosen as the only female sports representative on a committee convened by theOffice of Civil Rights to prepare the first interpretation of and guidelines for Title IX after it was signedinto law by President Nixon. She later went on to become women’s athletic director at the Universityof Minnesota and athletic director at Michigan State. She also served on the Executive Committeeand as Assistant Executive Director of the NCAA and was the last president of the Association ofIntercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW). Baker describes Birch Bayh as “a man who was a truechampion in defining equal opportunity for girls and women! His greatest legacy is that he set thetable for all women to have the opportunity to achieve their full potential . . . and to create legacies oftheir own! Not only girls and women in sport, but in science, in the arts, in health and human services,etc. He believed that gender equity is a moral imperative, and he championed that belief all the waythrough the halls of Congress and beyond. He was a wonderful human being . . . and one to whom weall owe a huge debt of gratitude! Without his co-authoring and promotion of Title IX, many of uswomen in sport would never have had the opportunity to experience play on a level-playing field . . . orto access leadership positions that simply were not available to women before the passage of TitleIX.”
______________________________________________________________________________ http://www.birchbayh.com/id3.html For more information about these studies and citations, see “Title IX,” Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Title_IX#Equity_in_athletics  http://www.birchbayh.com/id3.html  Ibid.  https://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Journal/Issues/2015/03/02/Champions/Donna-deVaronapoliticians.aspx  Email to Sanford G. Thatcher on March 19, 2019