Intercollegiate Athletics:

Comparison of Selected Characteristics for Men's and Women's Programs

HEHS-99-3R: Published: Jun 18, 1999. Publicly Released: Jun 23, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on: (1) selected characteristics for men's and women's intercollegiate athletics programs, focusing on: (a) the number of athletes; (b) number of teams; (c) sports programs sponsored; (d) average squad size; and (d) the maximum number of athletic scholarships a school may award for each sport; and (2) the number of student athletes and the proportion of undergraduate students at 4-year schools that participated as athletes during academic years 1985-86 and 1996-1997.

GAO noted that: (1) the general pattern that emerges from the data from the two periods GAO examined is that intercollegiate athletic participation by women increased between academic years 1985-86 and 1996-97, while athletic participation by men decreased in the same period; (2) in particular, the total number of male athletes decreased while the number of female athletes increased; (3) however, when the number of athletes was examined as a percentage of the the total undergraduate population, which increased during this period, the proportions of both men and women undergraduates that were athletes decreased over the period; and (4) for the five characteristics of schools' athletic programs that GAO examined, participation levels generally remained higher for men than for women, even though trends varied considerably by sport.

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