U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige has named Thomas B. Griffith, Assistant to the President and General Counsel of Brigham Young University, as one of 15 members of a blue-ribbon panel formed to examine ways of strengthening enforcement of Title IX and expanding opportunities to ensure fairness for all collegiate athletes.
Griffith will join the Secretary of Education's Commission on Opportunity in Athletics. The commission will hold public hearings and speak with parents, athletes, coaches, college officials, educators and other experts, as well as state, local and national leaders to gather information and prepare a recommendation that will be submitted to Paige by Jan. 21, 2003.
Title IX of the Civil Rights Act was signed into law in 1972 and prohibits all colleges and universities that receive federal funding from discriminating on the basis of sex. Title IX has led to an expansion of opportunities for women in collegiate athletics.
Its success has not been without controversy, however. As Secretary Paige acknowledged in his announcement of the creation of the commission, recent complaints about the enforcement of Title IX have raised questions of fairness for men's teams. In addition, he said, some college administrators have asked for clearer guidance on how to comply with Title IX.
"Some would like to settle this in the courts," Paige said in a written statement. "But we believe the better approach is to discuss all the questions openly, in a forum where all voices and all viewpoints can be heard. The members of this commission are on the front lines, facing the difficult issues in athletics every day. And I am confident that they will provide us with valuable guidance as to how we can better expand opportunities for all young Americans - girls and boys, women and men - in the classroom and on the playing field."
"It is an honor for a representative of BYU to be chosen a member of this important commission," Griffith said. "I believe my appointment is a recognition of BYU's strong women's and men's athletic programs."
BYU is one of only three Division I schools with athletic directors for both women's and men's sports, he added.
Griffith is no stranger to the intersection of law and public policy. From 1995 to 1999, he served as Senate Legal Counsel, the chief legal officer of the United States Senate. In that capacity, he represented the institutional interests of the Senate in litigation and congressional investigations, including the impeachment trial of President Clinton.
A 1978 BYU alumnus, Griffith received his juris doctorate from the University of Virginia, where he was an editor of the law review.
The panel will by chaired by former Phoenix Mercury head coach and WNBA all-star Cynthia Cooper and director of athletics at Stanford University Ted Leland. Other panel members include Penn State University president, Graham Spanier; Education Leadership Council CEO, Lisa Graham Keegan; Chairperson of the U.S. Olympic Government Relations Committee and two-time Olympic gold medalist, Donna de Varona; and Women's Sports Foundation president, Julie Foudy.