An examination of the viability of Title VII as a mechanism to compel racial diversity among the composition of head coaches at NCAA football bowl subdivision institutions

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2009-05-15

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The purpose of this study was to examine the legal strategy of utilizing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to compel change to the racial composition of head coaches at NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision institutions. To accomplish this, the researcher examined the guidelines for bringing a Title VII case, researched statutory requirements and case law precedents, and compiled and analyzed the outcomes of prior employment discrimination cases. In addition, the researcher investigated the proposition that Title VII could do for minority football coaches what Title IX did in athletics for girls and women. Investigation of Title VII procedural guidelines revealed that plaintiffs are disadvantaged when pursuing a claim. This is due in part to the fact that plaintiffs must exhaust administrative remedies prior to filing a complaint with a court. As a result, the Title VII remedy requires a protracted process. In addition, review of salient sport and non-sport cases revealed that courts are highly deferential to employers when evaluating the employers? proffered hiring criteria. Analysis of prior Title VII case outcomes revealed a significant disparity in plaintiff and defendant success rates. During 1998-2006, plaintiffs succeeded in opposing motions for summary judgment only 1.84% of the time in U.S. District Courts. Plaintiffs were more successful if they were able to get their cases heard by a court. Plaintiffs prevailed in 37.9% of jury trials and in 26.7% of bench trials. It was also determined that Title VII is unlikely to provide results similar to Title IX. This is asserted for two main reasons. First, unlike Title IX, Title VII complaints cannot be filed directly in a court without exhausting administrative remedies. Second, because standing is not an issue in filing a Title IX complaint with the Office for Civil Rights, the investigation of an institution can commence upon the filing of a complaint by an interested party. Thus, a coach or administrator does not have to be directly involved. It was concluded that for these and other reasons, it is unlikely that Title VII litigation can affect change. Minority coach advocates should instead try less adversarial approaches.

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