1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Finally, some Title IX sanity.

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by micropolitan guy, Oct 5, 2006.

  1. micropolitan guy

    micropolitan guy Well-Known Member

    The JMU Travesty

    Richmond Times-Dispatch
    Oct 5, 2006

    What James Madison University is doing to its varsity athletic programs is a travesty. But what Washington is doing to JMU is even worse.

    JMU's board of visitors has voted to kill off 10 varsity sports programs -- seven for men and three for women -- as of July 1. The sports, from archery to track to fencing, are not the big-time, big-bucks programs that invite so much corruption at schools large and small. Rather, they represent college athletics as it should be: an endeavor devoted to excellence for its own sake. Unfortunately, because of idiotic bureaucratic edicts from D.C., they will have to go.

    JMU says it is making the changes to comply with Title IX, but that is not quite right. The school is making the changes to comply with perverted interpretations of Title IX. Those interpretations, which rely on a strange view of the notion of proportionality, demand that athletic opportunities for male and female students reflect the proportion of male and female students enrolled, without any recognition of life in the real world.

    In the real world, lower percentages of women than men are interested in sports. (Think about it: How many women's magazines carry college football previews or betting-pool grids for the NCAA playoffs?) As a result, schools across the country have had to shut down thriving men's teams to maintain the false parity Title IX now effectively demands. According to the General Accounting Office, Title IX has forced schools to kill off more than 170 wrestling programs, 80 tennis teams, 70 gymnastics teams, and 45 track teams -- all men's. How does that help women?

    It wasn't supposed to be this way. The original legislation, modeled after the Civil Rights Act, was passed to guarantee equal opportunity in education generally. It reads: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

    The law does not mandate quotas. In fact, it specifically forbids them: "Nothing [in the law] shall be interpreted to require any educational institution to grant preferential or disparate treatment to the members of one sex on account of an imbalance which may exist with respect to the total number or percentage of persons of that sex participating in or receiving the benefits of any federally supported program or activity, in comparison with the total number or percentage of persons of that sex in any community, State, section, or other area."

    However, policy interpretations by unelected bureaucrats and federal court rulings that have raised those interpretations to the level of holy writ have turned Title IX into a program that does not so much expand opportunities for women as it denies opportunities to men.

    It's true that Title IX has opened new vistas for athletically inclined women. The number of girls who play high school sports has grown from about 300,000 to about 3 million. But that does not mean young women have as much interest in sports as young men do. If they did, then to achieve parity schools would not have to shut down men's programs. They could simply offer more sports for women, and equal numbers of women would show up for tryouts.

    But that doesn't happen. The resulting travesty: A law passed to prevent discrimination in education on the basis of sex now forces colleges such as JMU to shut down men's sports teams because they are men's teams. It's time for Congress to revisit the statute so schools don't have to treat sports programs like a zero-sum game.
  2. Kritter47

    Kritter47 Member

    It sounds to me like JMU is actually making a budget deision and blaming it on title IX.

    In my knowledge there are three ways to come into compliance with Title IX.
    1.) Have the gender ratio of your student body be roughly equal to the gender ratio of your student athletes.
    2.) Be making every effort to bring your ratios to relative equality.
    3.) Prove that all the desires of potential student-athletes at your school are met.

    And if they're shutting down men's and women's sports, there's no way it's a Title IX decision at the bottom. If all they're concerned about it the ratio, then why take away women's sports?
  3. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    They can only cut so much. They have to compete in, I think, 16 sports to maintain Division I status. Is JMU a big enough school to carry 26 sports? If it's a budget thing, why don't they just say so?

    I am certain that Title IX is a consideration, though, in choosing which sports to cut.
  4. Kritter47

    Kritter47 Member

    Because why have everyone ripping you to shreds for mismanagment, questioning how much you spend on the football team, AD salary and new copy machines for the office when you can you can blame something over which you have no control?

    Convienantly takes all the blame away from the athletic department.

    I'm sure Title IX had something to do with it, and I'm sure it's part of the reason for eliminating more men's teams than women's. But I think the reason to cut 13 teams in the first place probably lies in the budget.
  5. Cadet

    Cadet Guest

    Agree completely, Kritter. What these knee-jerk reactions to cuts made under the guise of Title IX don't take into account is that athletic administrators have now had more than 30 years to bring their departments into compliance. The law takes the blame for years of bad administrative decisions.

    And what the Bush Administration is doing to Title IX interpretation is a travesty as well. It's not "Washington", it's the Republicans. History shows that the Reagan, Bush I and Bush II administrations have weakend or refused to enforce the law. It wasn't until Clinton came into office in 1992 that the Office of Civil Rights was given the teeth to enforce a law that had been on the books for 20 years.

    This paragraph actually has it right: non-revenue sports unfairly end up on the chopping block. But again, this is not the direct result of Title IX. It's the result of budget cuts that the university is choosing to make. Are they making cuts to any of the revenue sports? Does a school such as JMU even have "revenue" sports, or is it one of the majority of college athletic departments that operates year after year in the red?

    As Kritter pointed out, proportionality is only is just one of three prongs that can be used to evaluate Title IX compliance. And I smell a "women just don't like sports" argument coming on...

    Asking why Cosmo doesn't carry college football previews is like asking why Esquire doesn't print quiche recipes. It's not what they do.

    A better judge of this is how many female subscribers SI or ESPN the Mag has. Or a marketing research study of how many women watch college football.

    And this overlooks the women's teams that have been cut. Three at JMU. Remember the Dartmouth swim teams and the eBay bid? It was the men's and women's.

    Women's teams are not immune to budget cuts. Again, to say that "Title IX makes schools cut men's teams" is a gross overstatement and often places the blame on the law instead of years of bad budgeting decisions.

    Yup. In fact, the law was not originally intended to apply to athletic programs, but it does. The law has worked wonders in terms of female participation in professional programs, such as law school and medical school. If your daughter wants to grow up to be a doctor, thank Title IX for the opportunity.

  6. Cadet

    Cadet Guest

    Correct again. But here's where the law specifically does not create a third gender of football. It's not men, women and football. The football coaches association, and athletic directors, would love for football to be excluded from Title IX. It means 85 fewer men to account for with regard to proportionality.

    Many people want to look across the board for equality: if there's a women's tennis team, there should be a men's tennis team.

    But there’s always football. And as long as majority of athletic budgets are devoted to football, there will need to be increased opportunities for women to begin to balance things out.

    If schools would (god forbid!) reel in football and other “revenue” sport budgets, it would not be necessary to cut any programs, male or female. But that will never happen, and so the cuts are made with the blame falling to Title IX.

    The author refutes himself in the very next paragraph. Opportunities for women have been expanded, in more than just athletics.

    It’s been proven that “if you build it, they will come.” That’s the exact reason for the tenfold increase in participation among girls in high school sports.

    And what evidence is given that girls aren’t as interested in sports as boys are? Is that just the writer’s opinion? I would think the tenfold increase is evidence of the contrary.

    By “simply offer[ing] more sports for women” would also go back to the basic issue at hand here: budgetary concerns. Adding sports costs money, and schools are trying to trim budgets.

    I would love to see the athletic director at a university have to explain to the medical research director why the federal research funding has been rescinded. While it hasn’t happened, that is a real penalty and considered the “death penalty” of Title IX enforcement. Title IX doesn’t just impact athletics, it has implications for the entire educational institution.

    Ahem, what about the three JMU women’s teams that got cut?

    And the judiciary system has been revisiting the issue on a regular basis and consistently upholding the law as it stands. It was the Bush Administration, via the Department of Education, that issued the 2005 clarification. It’s not really a congressional issue.

    Finally, proponents of Title IX aren’t against male sports; they are in favor for opportunities for all and hate to see any sports programs cut. Those who support the law as it stands would rather see athletic departments balance budgets in a way that benefits all sports, not just those (generally falsely) considered “revenue” sports.

    This article is naïve at best, perpetuating misogynistic stereotypes at worst.
  7. outofplace

    outofplace Well-Known Member

    Cadet, I agree that the story was overly slanted and completely ignored the cutting of the three women's teams and budgetary reasons for opportunities being lost.

    But are you really trying to argue that the interest level in sports is the same among men and women? Sorry, I think we all know better. The numbers have defenitely evened out, in large part because of Title IX, but to say they are on the same level is just as naive as the Richmond article.

    I'm not saying women aren't interested. I am saying they are not as interested as men.

    I'm curious about what a school would need to do to prove a disparity in interest level. Since so many don't choose that route, I would imagine it is not as easy as you say it is.

    I do believe some allowance should be made for football, though it absolutely should not be discounted all together. It is an all-male sport. Some women have tried, but to this point none have succeeded in making at the college level.

    And I know the next argument is going to be cutting scholarships, asking why colleges need larger rosters than NFL teams. Actually, there are a few reasons for this. First of all, NFL players don't have 4-year limits on their careers as the college ones do. Secondly, NFL athletes are better conditioned. They are the elite from the college ranks.

    There is just no fair way to balance the numbers without gutting other male sports teams. The problem is nobody bothers to look for a middle ground. It is either count every single football scholarship in the mix or count none of them. Neither approach is helpful in reaching what should be the goal -- giving a fair and proper opportunity to compete to male and female athletes with the interest level and willingness to put in the work.
  8. shotglass

    shotglass Guest

    Anybody see what specific sports were cut?
  9. Cadet

    Cadet Guest

    According to a related article on the Times-Dispatch website:

    "Men's sports to be discontinued are archery, cross country, gymnastics, indoor and outdoor track, swimming and wrestling. Women's sports to be eliminated are archery, gymnastics and fencing.

    According to JMU officials, some 144 athletes will be affected in addition to three full-time and eight part-time coaches. Eight of the athletes are receiving a total of $13,500 in scholarship aid, slightly less than the value of one full athletic scholarship."

    So these 144 kids were using up less than one full scholarship between them. Beautiful.

    Also, it should be noted that the original article appears to be an editorial from the T-D opinion pages. It doesn't have a link in the sports section. This is what happens when non-sports writers tackle a sports issue.
  10. Cadet

    Cadet Guest

    If there were to be an accurate head count of women's athletic interest it would not equal men's athletic interest. You are right on that point.

    However, why is that the case? I would argue that the reasons are sociological, not biological. Little girls are handed dolls, little boys are handed footballs. Our society has become more open-minded, for sure, but there is still the lingering concept that sports are a male realm. What if the roles had been reversed from the beginning, and boys had been handed dolls and girls footballs? Would Title IX have been enacted to promote opportunities for boys because the girls were dominating the resources?

    The law's job is to exist regardless of cultural impositions.

    Many schools go with the proportional part of the three-prong test because it was long believed to be the only "safe harbor" for Title IX compliance. A clarification issued by the OCR has specifically stated this to be untrue.

    The latest clarification from the Bush Administration addresses the interest prong. It says schools can issue surveys to determine interest among female students. While the clarification is solid on its face, because it strengthens that prong, there are several problems with the guidelines for execution that the Administration issued. First, interest among current female students may not reflect interest among future female students. Second, the guidelines stated that e-mail surveys may be used and lack of response can be interpreted as lack of interest, which is patently false for a number of reasons.

    But again, it comes back to departments focusing on the bottom line and using the Title IX proportionality prong as the excuse for cutting programs.

    There are a few women who would disagree. First off the top of my head is former Colorado/New Mexico kicker Katie Hnida. But I digress.

    There are not three genders: men, women and football. No matter how you dice it, it comes back to that. Why should football have special protection?

    I've actually heard the argument both ways. I know a women's fencing coach who is in favor of excluding football from Title IX compliance, because then it would establish a 1:1 ratio for the remaining sports. Everything else can be men's/women's down the line, possibly with volleyball offsetting wrestling. I do see the merit of this argument, because it would increase opportunites for both genders in more sports.

    But again, football cannot and should not be excluded. Why should that one sport be on a pedestal? And if it’s excluded, what parameters would be in place to keep football spending in check?

  11. Cadet

    Cadet Guest

    I respectfully believe you are confusing cutting scholarships with cutting roster sizes. Money can be redistributed without reducing the number of players who participate in a program.

    Very few Division I football players are on partial scholarship. It just doesn’t happen. And each school only has a handful of walk-ons, who are likely on scholarship for their last two years.

    Compare that to the 8 of 144 players who were sharing less than a full scholarship at JMU.

    Obviously it’s not as simple as cutting one football scholarship to save all those programs, but a reduction in the number of full scholarships for football, or dividing of scholarship funds, or an increase in the number of walk-ons are all options.

    And if schools were really interested in saving programs in favor of budget cuts, they would look to trim the fat from expensive sports such as football. Do players really need to stay in hotels the night before a home game? Etc.

    While I’m usually in favor of compromise in complex situations such as this, I can’t support that approach when it comes to Title IX enforcement. Again, football is not a third gender and shouldn’t receive special consideration.

    I am in no way in support of cutting men’s programs. I just think certain compromises that could be considered aren’t being considered.

    I will add one more point: most people look at, say, a women’s college crew team with a roster of 50, half of which have never rowed in their lives and were recruited at freshman orientation, and think “The interest level, competition level and willingness to work just aren’t there. Why are they supporting this program and cutting the men’s crew team?”

    The aforementioned women’s fencing coach told me that he was under pressure from the administration to be a program that had the numbers to balance out football. You can’t roster, say, 50 women’s basketball players, so some program has to pick up the slack.

    I understand that these bloated rosters don’t match interest for the sport in the general population. Of course there are more high school football players than high school fencers.

    But this points to another shortcoming of athletic administrations. If they would seek to comply with Title IX using the other prongs, they wouldn’t have to reach numerical proportionality and the poor crew coach wouldn’t be forced to create interest.
  12. Gold

    Gold Active Member

    Why shouldn't Cosmopolitian and Esquire publish college basketball previews? And hire a certain freelancer, (ahem, ahem) to do them.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page