The Title IX Controversy at UR

“No person in the United States shall on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

— Preamble, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972


This exhibit illustrates the tensions between the University of Richmond and the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the Department of Education in the early 1980s concerning the implementation of Title IX within the University’s athletic department. We will explore the investigation begun by the OCR given the receipt of a complaint against the University of Richmond alleging sex discrimination in athletics. More importantly, this exhibit will uncover the response undertaken by the university: one of denial to proceed with the investigation, to the extent that it sued the Secretary of Education, Terry H. Bell, for intruding in a program that did not receive federal funding. This suit was eventually won by the University of Richmond, and it set a precedent for similar cases of federal investigations on private colleges and universities.

It is worth noting that according to the official website of the U.S. Department of Education, the Office for Civil Rights enforces Title IX of the Education Amendments, which protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance. Title IX applies to all institutions that receive federal financial assistance. These institutions must operate in a nondiscriminatory manner or federal funds will be withdrawn. Moreover, it is within the obligations of the OCR to evaluate, investigate, and resolve complaints alleging sex discrimination.

This exhibit was created by Katie Brennan, Elizabeth Mejía-Ricart, and Alexa Mendieta.