Unlevel Playing Fields: A Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism and Howard Center for Investigative Journalism collaboration.

As Title IX turns 50, equity is still elusive for 3.4 million girls playing high school sports.

Title IX a mystery to most parents and students, poll says

Title IX is nearly 50 years old, but a new poll has found that nearly three-quarters of students and nearly 60% of parents said they know “nothing at all” about the landmark civil rights law.

Federal Title IX data on sports participation is unreliable

Fifty years after the passage of Title IX, it’s still impossible to tell whether high schools are complying with the law unless someone complains.

Students level the playing fields at California high school

Many high school girls lack the information to recognize Title IX violations and to demand change from school officials. But once two Rancho Buena Vista High School students received that information, they acted.

Title IX complaints and unkept promises in Prince George’s County

Under a 2006 agreement, Prince George’s County Public Schools promised to adhere to Title IX requirements with a focus on boosting participation and improving conditions for high school girls sports. But problems remain.

A model for Title IX compliance at a New Jersey high school

Union City High is, in many ways, a model for schools across the country. Over the last few years, the high school has been creating more opportunities for girls in sports.

Title IX requires girls sports get equal publicity. They often don’t.

Title IX requires equal opportunity for girls in school-based sports programs receiving federal financial assistance — including equal publicity.

Field conditions, amenities fuel many Title IX legal disputes

At some high schools across the country, parents, students, former students –– even coaches –– have become so frustrated over apparent Title IX violations that they’ve sued the local high schools.

Inaction on Title IX spans decades in Congress

Nearly 50 years after the passage of Title IX, the federal government still does not have an accurate way of knowing how many high schools and other secondary schools are in compliance with the statute.

Title IX can only protect those who know about it

Each school district crafts its own Title IX training — if the district offers any at all.

Disparities between girls’ and boys’ sports facilities lead to the courthouse

Many of the 109 Title IX complaints related to high school sports filed with the federal government describe substandard facilities for girls — shoddy maintenance, uneven fields, limited or no access to gyms and pools.

The Faces of Title IX

We asked the same question of 60 women: “What’s the most important lesson you learned playing high school sports?”


There are nearly 24,000 public high schools in the US and 3.4 million girls playing for sports teams. Title IX, the sweeping federal law that guarantees equity in “any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance,” applies to each one of them. Who is watching over them? What systems ensure that girls in high school sports are getting fair treatment?

“Unlevel Playing Fields" is a four-month investigation into Title IX and high school sports. The reporting reveals a system that is failing countless girls.

The package of work includes 12 text stories, several video pieces and a national poll of high school parents and their student-athletes to measure awareness of Title IX, which turns 50 in June. It was produced by students at the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism and Howard Center for Investigative Journalism at the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Nearly two dozen student journalists participated in the project, hunting down documents, combing data and interviewing dozens of principals, coaches, parents and students across the country.

Project credits

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