WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and U.S. Representative Alma Adams (D-N.C.-12), a member of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor, on Tuesday introduced legislation to promote gender equity in college and K-12 sports. The Fair Play for Women Act would promote fairness and equity in participation opportunities and institutional support for women's and girls' sports programs, ensure transparency and public reporting of data by college and K-12 athletic programs, hold athletic programs and athletic associations more accountable for Title IX violations and discriminatory treatment, and improve education and awareness of Title IX rights among college and K-12 athletes as well as athletics staff. U.S. Representatives Lori Trahan (D-Mass.-03) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.-01) co-sponsored the legislation.

“It’s no secret there’s still a huge gap in resources and opportunities between women’s sports and men’s sports – it’s a Title IX violation hiding in plain sight. Our bill would ensure sports programs for women and girls finally get the support they’re entitled to, increase transparency and accountability of schools and athletic associations, and make sure athletes are aware of their Title IX rights and how to exercise them. I’m proud to be working with Representatives Adams, Trahan, and Bonamici on this important piece of legislation to fulfill the promise of Title IX in college and K-12 athletics,” said Murphy.

“I am proud to introduce the Fair Play for Women Act, which would make updates to the Title IX to address gaps in the law and keep Title IX strong for generations of women to come,” said Adams. “As a legislator for three decades, high school athlete, and a college professor at a women’s college for more than 40 years, I have fought not only to support Title IX and its positive impact on college athletics and other collegiate programs, but also to make sure the law continues to give women the opportunities we deserve. As a mother and grandmother, I want to make sure that my granddaughters and their friends grow up in a world where they are empowered to succeed.

“The students of today and tomorrow deserve a level playing field, an equitable collegiate experience, and freedom from discrimination and harassment. I am committed to working alongside my colleagues, like Senators Murphy and Feinstein and Representative Trahan to pass this meaningful legislation to update Title IX, and renew its promise to keep women at the table and on the field,” concluded Adams.

“Glaring loopholes in Title IX have been hurting women athletes for decades. As women’s sports continue gaining in popularity, it’s time to make sure that the system of college athletics finally works for the athletes who power it,” said Trahan. “I wish women athletes had protections like those in the Fair Play for Women Act when I was playing volleyball, and it’s on all of us to make sure future generations never go without them again. I’m proud to partner with Senator Murphy and Congresswomen Adams and Bonamici to introduce this long overdue legislation. For my daughters and every young girl who dreams of playing college sports one day, we must get this done.”

“We have made remarkable progress toward gender equity in sports since Title IX became law 50 years ago, but we still have more to do to end discrimination in athletic programs,” said Bonamici. “Too many girls and women lack opportunities to compete and many have subpar facilities, equipment, and support. The Fair Play for Women Act will increase oversight of athletic programs and hold them accountable for Title IX violations, as well as help educate athletes about their rights.” 

“The FAIR PLAY FOR WOMEN ACT will fundamentally strengthen TITLE IX through better education, stronger enforcement and greater transparency in data and reporting. We are proud of the role that our young VIS Advocates have played in creating this important step towards equality in sport for all. With the VOICES of the girls at the center, this Bill will spark conversations which will positively impact girls and women in sport for generations to come,” said Stef Strack, Founder & CEO VOICEINSPORT & VOICEINSPORT FOUNDATION.

“We applaud Senator Murphy for sponsoring the Fair Play for Women Act,” said Andrew Zimbalist, President of the Drake Group. "The Act would strengthen existing statutes that require colleges and universities to publicly report data demonstrating their compliance with the athletics provisions of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and, for the first time, it extends such reporting requirements to elementary and secondary schools with athletic programs. Parents and athletes should be able to easily access such data on the internet so that there is a factual basis for demanding that their educational institutions address inequities. The Act would also correct participant counting and other inaccuracies that exist in current reporting mandates and would require more detailed financial reporting related to athletics financial aid where male athletes are more likely to be awarded larger scholarship packages on more preferential terms.” 

Specifically, the Fair Play for Women Act would:

  • Expand reporting requirements of 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 requirements among colleges, extending these requirements to include athletic programs at elementary and secondary schools, and requiring the Secretary of Education to house all data on the same public website. Further, the bill requires athletic programs to 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 and Title IX compliance. These provisions will help weed out reporting tricks by programs to skirt Title IX compliance and make it easier for athletes and stakeholders to evaluate persisting gaps in athletic programs. 
  • Hold athletic programs and athletic associations like the NCAA more accountable for Title IX violations and discriminatory treatment. The bill would codify that intercollegiate athletic associations, including the NCAA and athletic conferences, shall not discriminate on the basis of sex. Further, it would provide a private right of action for all Title IX claims and lawsuits, making it easier for athletes to push for change at their schools. The bill would also authorize the Department of Education to levy fines on colleges that are found non-compliant with Title IX, along with requiring submission of publicly available plans to remedy violations, providing more tools to compel Title IX compliance. 
  • Improve education and awareness 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. Further, the bill would 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 college and K-12 athletics understand what Title IX compliance means and what students’ rights are under the law.  

A one-pager is available here.

A section by section is available here.

Murphy along with U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and U.S. Representatives Lori Trahan (D-Mass.-03) and Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.-16) introduced the College Athlete Right to Organize Act, legislation to provide collective bargaining rights for college athletes. Murphy and Trahan also wrote the College Athlete Economic Freedom Act, which grants unrestricted rights to college athletes over the use of their name, image, and likeness.