On June 23, 1972, a piece of legislation known as Title IX became law. Today, Title IX became 40 years old.

The purpose of Title IX is to promote gender equality across all educational fields. Its primary area of applicability, however, has been with sports.

In February, Duke celebrated the upcoming anniversary, while also commemorating the 40th anniversary of when the Woman's College and Trinity College at Duke merged. This also marked the establishment of women's varsity athletics at Duke. For more on that celebration, read Kristie Kim's article in The Chronicle from February.

Also in February, The Chronicle sports section wrote a two-part series on Title IX and its impact on Duke athletics. In the first of those, Chris Cusack examines the history of Duke's compliance with Title IX and what it means to "comply" with the law.

There are three different ways to test compliance with Title IX, and a school must meet one of the three prongs in order to be considered compliant.

Cusack writes:

The first prong requires the ratio of male to female athletes be, according to the legal wording, “substantially proportional” to the overall ratio of undergraduate students. Prong two is closely related, stating that a university must expand the athletic opportunities for the underrepresented gender until it achieves proportionality.

Duke has focused its compliance efforts on following the third prong, which, in contrast to the first two, is a qualitative metric. Based on an eight-factor test, it evaluates whether or not a school has fully met the “interests and abilities of the underrepresented gender,” said Dan Cohen, Trinity ’97, an attorney specializing in Title IX compliance.

“[It is] difficult to demonstrate compliance with prong three,” Cohen said, “A judge or a jury may disagree with a school’s opinion about whether it complies.”

In the second part of the series, Andrew Beaton looked at Duke's financial data and looked at how Duke complies with Title IX today.

Looking at the publicly available numbers, Beaton writes:

Duke athletics’ financial statements are submitted annually by the University’s compliance coordinator, Deputy Director of Athletics Chris Kennedy, to the Office of Postsecondary Education of the Department of Education. According to the University’s 2010-11 data, the athletic department spent $35,533,685 on men’s teams and $13,305,078 on women’s teams. Over that period, there were 378 male athletes and 281 female athletes.

But, a look at the financial data does not properly reveal the legislation’s influence because a holistic assessment of gender-equality is considered more important than a numbers-based one.

“[We ask] what is it like to be a women’s lacrosse player,” Kennedy said. “Not only compared to men’s lacrosse players, but all other student athletes. And is that experience comparable quantitatively and qualitatively?”

These are financial decisions but also comprehensive examinations of equipment, field time, travel expenses and quality of life for the student-athletes.

Members of the Duke community have been voicing their support for the legislation on Twitter today, many using the hashtag #maketherules.

Duke women's basketball head coach Joanne P. McCallie wrote on Twitter, "#TitleIX has had a tremendous impact on the lives of so many. Few things are as special as empowering others. #maketherules."