Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em Podcast
Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em Podcast
136. KC Johnson: What the Hell Just Happened with Title IX?!

136. KC Johnson: What the Hell Just Happened with Title IX?!

The Biden Administration dropped its new college guidelines. We brought on the Title IX expert to explain. Is due process doomed? Let's find out!
Duke Lacrosse Team, 2006

Title IX started as a modest part of the Education Amendments of 1972; it was the part that prohibited sex-based discrimination in education programs. In the 50+ years since, it’s become shorthand for many things: Women in sports, a sexual reckoning, a cultural over-correction, a legal shitshow. What no one ever seems to ask is: Why are colleges adjudicating sexual matters between students anyway?

Our guest KC Johnson, a tenured professor at Brooklyn College, began his Title IX education back in 2006, when the Duke lacrosse team was accused of rape. The case became a national scandal, pulling in faculty, administration, lawyers, and the government, with the accused students at the center, though they were eventually exonerated. It’s a case Nancy and Sarah discussed way back in episode 10 (“Fabulists!”), and one Johnson spent years investigating and eventually co-authored a book about.

Since then, Johnson has become the go-to guy on this topic. Who better to explain the new Title IX guidelines from Biden? Don’t forget: Biden is the original crusader behind Title IX’s more recent iteration as a way to address campus sexual assault.

Also discussed: A preference for extralegal remedies, which president first tagged colleges with adjudicating sexual assault (it wasn’t Obama), whether Biden is trying to make up for Anita Hill, whether LBJ or Ladybird wore the pants in the family — and more!

Lots of great/unsettling links in the episode notes.

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Episode Notes:

CORRECTION: The Duke Lacrosse story Sarah saw was on 60 Minutes, not 20/20, she should have known this. John and Susan Hepola are 60 Minutes die-hards.

60 Minutes episode on Duke Lacrosse

Minding the Campus: Reforming Our Universities

Dear Colleague letter (Wikipedia)

Group of 88 (Wikipedia)

Duke Professors Reject Calls to Apologize to Lacrosse Players,” by Christina Asquith (Diverse Education)

The ‘Group of 88’ and Richard Brodhead” by Luke Sheahan (

I’m a Democrat and a Feminist. And I Support Betsy DeVos’s Title IX Reforms,” by Lara Bazelon (New York Times)

The Revolt of the Feminist Law Profs: Jeannie Suk Gersen and the fight to save Title IX from itself,” by Wesley Yang (Chronicle)

Myths That Make It Hard to Stop Campus Rape,” by Joseph Shapiro (NPR, 2010)

Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education

Doe v. Brandeis University

Further deep reading from Sarah’s lawyer friend:

FACT SHEET: U.S. Department of Education’s 2024 Title IX Final Rule Overview

Brief Overview of Key Provisions of the Department of Education’s 2024 Title IX Final Rule

“Unofficial” 1577-page version of DOE regulations (“Note: the actual regs start on page 1505. Rest is comments from interested parties and preamble/discussion.”)

What’s in your bot box?

KC: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, by Robert Caro

LBJ and Ladybird: Who’s the boss?

Sarah: “What ‘Cheer’ Led To: How Viral Fame Upended Monica Aldama’s Life,” by Sarah Hepola (Texas Monthly)

Nancy: Matty: An American Hero, by Ray Robinson

The painting of Mathewson Nancy saw at the National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum that made her fall for the pitcher

KC picks the outro:

smoke ‘em

Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em Podcast
Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em Podcast
Journalistas Nancy Rommelmann and Sarah Hepola on what's burning through the culture right now. Flirtatious banter for serious times.