Press Releases

Trahan, Murphy, Adams Reintroduce Legislation To Promote Gender Equity In Sports

“Women’s sports have seen an explosion of interest over the past decade, and at the collegiate level, they’ve largely had to do it on their own. Schools have routinely exploited Title IX loopholes that deprive women athletes of roster spots while the NCAA and conferences have historically underinvested in the promotion and accessibility of women’s sporting events,” said Congresswoman Trahan. “The Fair Play for Women Act would build on the progress initiated by the Kaplan report by finally requiring the power brokers of college athletics to live up to the spirit of Title IX. That includes barring schools from double or triple counting women athletes, counting men’s practice players as women, and overcounting women athletes on their rosters. Any action Congress takes with respect to college sports should contain these basic reforms so women athletes have a fair chance to succeed.”

“For every dollar colleges spend on recruiting athletes for men’s sports, they spend 58 cents recruiting for women’s sports. That statistic isn’t an outlier – it’s just one example of the huge gap in resources between women’s and men’s sports from K-12 all the way through college. I’m proud to be working with Representatives Adams, Trahan, and Bonamici on this legislation to increase accountability of schools and athletic associations, educate athletes about their Title IX rights, and most importantly, ensure that sports programs for women and girls finally get the equal support they’re entitled to and have long deserved,” said Senator Murphy.

“Sports change lives. They provide a safe harbor for the wayward energies of young people, directing them toward productive futures through diligence, endurance, good health, teamwork, sportsmanship, and fairness on the field. Sports provide a redemption from the past, a refuge for the present, and opportunities for the future. Knowing all this, how could we rest if these opportunities are not fairly provided to our girls as well as our boys? Sports are nothing if not fair. I’m proud to champion fairness on the field, and Fair Play for Women,” said Congresswoman Adams.

The Fair Play for Women Act really is about fairness—enabling women and girls to have equitable opportunities in sports and holding schools accountable when they don’t. The stark truth is that despite progress after Title IX, women and girls still face fewer opportunities than boys to participate in sports and insufficient resources for their teams. This necessary legislation will confront the continued lack of gender equity and fairness in sports,” said Senator Blumenthal.

“For too long, schools have fallen short of the standard of equal opportunity set by Title IX. Athletic programs routinely devote fewer resources and less support to women’s sports at every level of education, depriving women and girls of the full benefits that sports provide. The Fair Play for Women Act will strengthen Title IX protections and increase transparency so all student athletes have the same opportunities to participate and compete,” said Congresswoman Bonamici.

Specifically, the Fair Play for Women Act would:

1. Hold schools and athletic associations accountable for discriminatory treatment. The bill would codify that state and intercollegiate athletic associations, including the NCAA, cannot discriminate based on sex, along with asserting non-discrimination protections within all school-based athletics, including club and intramural sports. It would also provide a robust private right of action for all athletes in their discrimination claims, making it easier for athletes to push for change at their schools. The bill would authorize the Department of Education to levy civil penalties on schools that repeatedly discriminate against athletes, with and require schools to submit publicly available plans to remedy violations, providing more tools to compel compliance and resolve ongoing discrimination.

2. Expand reporting requirements for college and K-12 athletics data and make all information easily accessible to the public. The bill would establish a one-stop shop for key athletics data by expanding the scope and detail of reporting by colleges, extending these requirements to include athletics at elementary and secondary schools, and requiring the Secretary of Education to house all data on the same public website. The bill also requires that schools certify the data they submit and report how they are claiming Title IX compliance, and requires an annual public report by the Department of Education on gender equity. These provisions will help weed out reporting tricks by programs to skirt non-discrimination laws and make it easier for athletes and stakeholders to evaluate persisting gaps in athletic programs or use publicly available data in their claims against schools.

3. Improve education of Title IX rights among athletes, staff, and stakeholders. The bill would require Title IX trainings on an annual basis for all athletes, Title IX coordinators, and athletic department and athletic association staff. The bill would also establish a public database of all Title IX coordinators at colleges and K-12 schools, included in the one-stop shop for athletics data. These provisions will ensure all people involved with K-12 and college athletics understand what Title IX means and what students’ rights are under the law.

A one-pager is available HERE.

The Drake Group, Girls, Inc., National Organization for Women (NOW), National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), National Women's Political Caucus, Voice in Sport Foundation, and Women's Sports Foundation endorsed the legislation.

“Title IX opened many doors for women and has created tremendous progress for girls and women in sports. However, as a majority of schools in the U.S remain out of compliance, it is imperative to strengthen Title IX through education, enforcement, and data transparency. The VOICEINSPORT Foundation wholeheartedly supports the Fair Play for Women Act. Senator Murphy and Representative Adams are steadfast champions of girls and women in sports. Their continued commitment to driving equity in sports is exemplified in this bill, which will build off the work of countless women before us to create an equal playing field,” said Stef Strack, CEO and Founder of the VOICEINSPORT Foundation.

"The Fair Play for Women Act is a step in the right direction to reach true equity for student-athletes," said WSF CEO Danette Leighton. "For 50 years, the Women's Sports Foundation has championed a simple message: when girls and women play, society wins. That's why we applaud the introduction of this bill, as it seeks to help more girls and women play, compete and lead -- in sports and beyond -- without barriers."

"All students deserve the same opportunity to thrive in sports, regardless of gender. The Fair Play for Women Act would address existing gaps in Title IX while providing support for generations of women and girls to come. The National Women's Political Caucus is proud to support legislation that would bring us one step closer to gender equity in the United States,” said NWPC President, Deidre Malone.

“The Drake Group applauds the Senator Murphy and Representative Adams' teams for stepping up to the plate to provide better Title IX compliance tools through the Fair Play for Women Act. The legislation closes significant collegiate athletics reporting loopholes and establishes long overdue K-12 reporting and training obligations. As important, the Act provides for a private right of action and civil penalties as well as clearly holding athletics governance associations accountable for discriminatory treatment. This is good, common sense gender equity legislation deserving of widespread non-partisan support,” said Donna A. Lopiano, Ph.D., President, The Drake Group.

"Research shows that involvement in sports builds girls' confidence and enhances their physical and mental health," said Dr. Stephanie J. Hull, President and CEO of Girls Inc. "Improving access to athletics in schools offers benefits for girls that range from greater academic achievement and higher earning potential, to healthier life choices and reduced risk of several serious illnesses, including breast cancer and heart disease."

Last year, Trahan and Murphy introduced the College Athlete Economic Freedom Act, the most pro-athlete NIL bill introduced at the federal level. Trahan has also advocated for strengthing college athletes’ NIL rights in prior Energy and Commerce Committee hearingsIn her work to strengthen the rights of college athletes, Trahan draws upon her experience as a volleyball player at Georgetown University and the process of earning her athletic scholarship, which helped her to become the first in her family to graduate from college.