84th International Atlantic Economic Conference

October 05 - 08, 2017 | Montreal, Canada

U.S. private vs. public high school athletic booster clubs and gender equity

Friday, 6 October 2017: 10:20 AM
Donna Anderson, Ph.D. , Economics, University of Wisconsin–La Crosse, La Crosse, WI
Title IX of the 1972 U.S. Education Amendment prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in schools receiving federal funding. Athletic expenditures, even by booster clubs, must be taken into account in determining compliance with Title IX. A booster club is defined as parent groups or community groups that are formally associated with the high school, typically holding fundraisers or securing business or corporate sponsorships to assist in the expenses associated with the athletic team(s). Little research exists on booster clubs because of the difficulty obtaining data and a lack of oversight of their activities. Previous research shows that unregulated booster clubs have led to funding inequities by sex. Further, Anderson’s (2017) work based on surveys administered to 414 Wisconsin public high school athletic directors (with a response rate of 28%) revealed that 25% of schools do not require their booster clubs to report their activities to a school district official and that only 46% have one all-sport booster club, a booster model that better ensures gender equity.

In March 2017, a list of private high schools and their websites were accessed from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (WI DPI, 2017) and were used to gather the school district-specific information necessary for this study, as well as to determine the name and email addresses of each high school athletic director (AD), the person most likely to know about booster clubs. The same survey administered to public high school ADs (Anderson, 2017) was administered to 330 private high school ADs with a response rate of 37%. In terms of school enrollment size and the number of sports offered, the sample is representative of the target population.

A chi square test and t-tests were used to compare private and public schools. Logistic regression was used to determine the factors important in the type of booster club model employed in the school district. The results show that statistically significantly fewer private high schools require their booster clubs to report their activities to a school district official compared to public high schools, and fewer have one all-sport all-school booster club. Given the current U.S. administration’s willingness to devote more funding to private and less to public schools, this research suggests a higher likelihood that federal laws on gender equity in educational institutions may be undermined by booster clubs.