Getty Images

This June marks the 50th anniversary of Title IX being passed into American law and helping create gender equality in sport. Before Title IX, women were overlooked in sports and were not nearly as supported as male athletes were. Title IX aimed to change this narrative and states that no one in the United States will be excluded from programs or denied the proper benefits for programs "on the basis of sex." 

To commemorate the 50th anniversary, CBS Sports' "We Need To Talk" is launching a year-long project to dive deeper into how this landmark law opened the doors for women's sports to grow in America. Follow "We Need to Talk" on social platforms -- Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube -- for a year-long celebration of Title IX's effect on sports.

But as you prepare to consume that content, here's a look at everything you need to know about Title IX, then and now:

What is Title IX?

Title IX is a federal civil right law that states:

"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

If an institution does not follow Title IX, the law allows for the termination of financial assistance from federal funding.  The NCAA website states, "Title IX requires the equal treatment of female and male student-athletes in the provisions of:

  • a) equipment and supplies
  • (b) scheduling of games and practice times
  • (c) travel and daily allowance/per diem
  • (d) access to tutoring 
  • (e) coaching
  • (f) locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities
  • (g) medical and training facilities and services
  • (h) housing and dining facilities and services
  • (i) publicity and promotions
  • (j) support services
  • (k) recruitment of student-athletes."

While Title IX is mostly discussed in terms of athletics, it actually applies to all aspects of education. This video from Amy Trask of "We Need to Talk" should help explain the scope:

What were athletics like before Title IX?

In 1906 the NCAA was created and went on to be the governing body of college athletics, but to start, few opportunities were given to female athletes.

Women were not offered athletic scholarships and there were no women's championships. They also struggled with funding and their facilities, equipment and overall experience was far less than their male counterparts. 

The lack of scholarship, championships, recognition and proper equipment, women did not make up much of college athletics.

In 1972, 30,000 women were competing in NCAA athletics opposed to 170,000 men participating the same year.  

Who is credited for Title IX?

Rep. Patsy Mink is the sponsor and major author, with Rep. Edith Green and Sen. Birch Bayh also credited for contributions. 

Title IX was renamed the Patsy Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act after Mink died in 2002. Following her death, she was awarded the Medal of Freedom. 

A timeline of how Title IX become law

  • The bill was introduced in the Senate on Feb. 28, 1972
  • The bill was passed by the Senate on March 1, 1972
  • The bill was passed by the House on May 11, 1972
  • The bill was reported by the joint conference committee on May 24, 1972, it was agreed to by the Senate on May 24, 1972 with a vote of 63-15 and then by the House with a 218-180 vote  
  • Title IX was signed into law by President Nixon on June 23, 1972

Who does Title IX apply to?

Any school, local or state educational agency and any institution that gets federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education must comply to Title IX. This is around 17,600 local school districts and 5,000 postsecondary institutions, charter schools, for-profit schools, libraries and museums.

What does Title IX require from schools?

Scholarships must be given to male and female athletes proportional to their participation, they must work to expand the "underrepresented sex" and treat all genders equally.

The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is responsible for investigating cases of discrimination based on gender and provides schools with information on how to adhere to Title IX. Anyone who files a complaint with OAR is kept confidential. 

Why Title IX is important

Title IX created a more equal playing field for male and female athletes, something that did not exist before. It finally allowed women to get the recognition they deserved.

In a society with a long history of sexism, advances of this magnitude for gender equality are crucial in beginning to reverse deeply-embedded sexism.