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34 C.F.R. § 106.2(h) (1997) defines "recipient" to include any entity to whom federal financial assistance is extended directly or through another recipient and which operates an education program or activity which receives or benefits from such assistance. The first part of this definition makes clear that coverage under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), 20 U.S.C.S. § 1681(a), is not triggered when an entity merely benefits from federal funding. Thus, the regulation accords with the teaching of earlier decisions by the court that entities that receive federal assistance, whether directly or through an intermediary, are recipients within the meaning of Title IX; entities that only benefit economically from federal assistance are not.
Complainant, Renee M. Smith, sued petitioner, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), 20 U.S.C.S. § 1681(a), alleging it sexually discriminated against her by not allowing her to play volleyball at federally assisted institutions. The district court granted petitioner’s motion to dismiss, holding that the complainant’s Title IX claim had to be dismissed because of her failure to allege that the petitioner was a recipient of federal funds. Subsequently, the district court refused to allow the complainant to amend her complaint. On appeal, the appellate court reversed and ordered a remand, expressing the view that an allegation in the complainant’s proposed amended complaint – that the petitioner received dues from member institutions which received federal funds – would be sufficient, if proven, to bring the petitioner within the scope of Title IX as a recipient of federal funds.
Was the petitioner’s receipt of dues from federally funded member institutions sufficient to bring it within the scope of Title IX?
The Court noted that the appellate court failed to give effect to 34 C.F.R. § 106.2 (1997) in its entirety, as the regulation accorded with the teaching of earlier decisions that entities that received federal assistance, whether directly or through an intermediary, were recipients within the meaning of Title IX; whereas, entities that only benefitted economically from such assistance were not. The Court held that at most, petitioner's receipt of dues demonstrated that it indirectly benefitted from the federal assistance afforded its members, and the Supreme Court held that this showing, without more, was insufficient to trigger Title IX coverage. Thus, the judgment by the appellate court was vacated.