Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Norwich and Lawrence Universities Cancel Wrestling Programs

I'll be headed out for the holidays momentarily, but before I go, I wanted to pass along the very sad news that both Norwich University (which also cut Men's tennis) and Lawrence University have dropped their men's wrestling programs.

At Norwich, it seems that friends of the program are determined not to go without a fight and are starting a letter writing campaign in support of the program. If you'd like to take part, send your letter to:

Dr. Richard M. Schneider
President, Norwich University
158 Harmon Drive
Northfield, VT 05663

Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan
Chairman, Board of Trustees
Norwich University
C/o David Whaley, Secretary
158 Harmon Drive
Northfield, VT 05663

Here are more details that were shared with me by Mike Moyer of the National Wrestling Coaches Association:
  • The stated reason for dropping the wrestling program is budgetary. How does an enrollment driven university like Norwich justify eliminating wrestling when few, if any male sports, have a more favorable ratio of high school participants to college opportunities (260,000 high school participants vs only 220 NCAA wrestling teams).
  • This decision jeopardizes more than the 32 wrestlers currently on the Norwich wrestling roster. It affects the 7 other military colleges that sponsor wrestling as well as over 260,000 underserved high school wrestlers that now have one fewer college to pursue their academic and athletic dreams.
  • How can Norwich University make the decision to eliminate wrestling without first reaching out to the alumni and wrestling community for help?
  • According to the Norwich University 2007/08 EADA, wrestling is one of the least expensive sports at the University. It appears that wrestling is inexpensive, has provided the school with considerable national exposure, and has done more than its fair share to help Norwich bolster its undergraduate enrollment.
  • In summary, it is important that the University administration believes that the public outcry is going to escalate over the following days, months, and years. The wrestling community encourages the administration to establish an alternative plan that maintains its intercollegiate wrestling program.
Others are already organizing at Wrestling 411, d3Wrestle.com and TheMat.com.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Buying Into Title IX Doubletalk at the University of Delaware

While the administration at the University of Delaware decided to ignore NCAA President Myles Brand's edict not to blame Title IX for the end of the Men's Indoor Track program, the folks who run the student newspaper don't seem to mind resorting to Orwellian twists of the language to cover up what happened:
University President Patrick Harker, Edgar Johnson, director of athletics, and Jim Fischer, men's cross country and track and field coach, were quoted in a Dec. 10 News Journal story about changes to the athletics program because of Title IX. The University will de-emphasize men's indoor track and add women's golf as a varsity sport.
Tell me, on what planet do the words de-emphasize and eliminate mean exactly the same thing?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Men's Program Braces for Cuts at UT-Chattanooga

From the Chattanooga Times-Free Press:
UTC men’s golf coach Mark Guhne spent Thursday night in a condominium without running water or electricity.

“It had a couch,” he said, describing his accommodations on a recruiting trip. “I’m staying with a friend tonight in Orlando and another friend in Miami tomorrow.”

The coach is doing everything he can to save money, even though exact budget cuts at UTC have not yet been specified. But if tuition at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga increases by 7 percent next year — which officials say is likely — the athletic department must cut nearly $600,000 from its budget, according to a University of Tennessee reduction plan draft.

Under that plan, UTC athletic director Rick Hart needs to shave $587,548 for the university to reach its required reduction of more than $8.4 million.

“We’ll strategically look at each of our resources,” Mr. Hart said, “and then we’ll look at making reductions without: one, impacting the student-athlete experience; secondly, preserving our human resources; and thirdly trying to maintain those things that are vital to our ability to generate revenues.”

Mr. Hart declined to discuss specific figures or potential targets for the cuts. The reductions will be made with consideration to policies of the university, and the Southern Conference and with state and federal laws, including Title IX, he said.
... Which is code for only men's programs will get cut. Stay tuned.

Friday, December 19, 2008

How Title IX Holds Back American College Soccer

From Bill Archer at Big Soccer, some unfortunate facts about the college game:
As for more scholarships, let's start with getting colleges to stop dropping programs.

I'm not about to open the whole Title IX can of crap here, so I'll just say this: to add more male soccer scholarships would mean adding more female scholarships in some sport or other, and they're having enough trouble filling the ones they have. Too many universities are already forced to go out and recruit women for things they've never done before, like rowing or field hockey.

Unless you can figure out how to either a) repeal Title IX or b) exempt football from the Title IX equation (which they should do but won't), you're simply wasting your time.

Oklahoma State Wins Reno Tournament of Champions

Congratulations to Oklahoma State University Men's Wrestling Team, the winner of college bracket of the 2008 Reno Tournament of Champions. Click here for the results. Here's the rest of the top 10:

1.Oklahoma State146.5
2.Edinboro132.5
3.North Carolina94.0
4.Cal State Bakersfield87.0
5.Navy79.0
6.Arizona State University63.0
7.Wyoming62.5
8.Oregon State59.5
9.UC Davis58.5
10.Cal State Fullerton57.0

But the college bracket was just the start of the tournament, as the high school bracket starts today and continues through Saturday. The folks who started the RTOC wanted to create the "toughest tournament in the US," and it's hard not to argue that they succeeded. Here's a clip from the 2007 Tournament, as Navy's Ed Prendergast takes on Oklahoma State's Jared Rosholt in one of the finals:



Congratulations to all of the participants.

Title IX Might Have Killed Wrestling at Susquehanna University, But Not Its Spirit

From John Huckaby in the Centre Daily Times:
Wrestling is gone from Susquehanna University, a victim of Title IX. And long-time SU wrestling coach Charlie Kunes, a State College native, has been deceased for more than two years.

Some former wrestlers and alumni at the Selinsgrove school don’t want Mr. Kunes to be forgotten. With that in mind, a fundraiser toward a permanent campus memorial is nearing its goal of $15,000. The memorial will be in front of the Garrett Sports Complex, site of O. W. Hout’s Gymnasium and the former wrestling room. It will be consist of a brick edged concrete patio with steel benches including memorial plaques to coach Kunes and his wife, Mrs. Jane Kunes, who also spent many years on the staff at SU.

Ken Tashjy, a former SU wrestler, said about $3,500 is still needed to pay for the memorial.

Send your donations to Susquehanna University “Kunes Memorial Fund” and direct your gift to: Ms. Angela Hoot, SU Office of Development, 514 University Avenue, Selinsgrove, Pa. 17870.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

NCAA 2008 Men's Fencing Final

One of the great sports that often gets cut thanks to Title IX enforcement is men's fencing. Earlier today I found the footage from the 2008 Men's NCAA Final between Andras Horanyi from Ohio State and Ron Berkowsky from University of Pennsylvania. The bout comes in three parts, and while there's an interruption in Part III, it's all worth watching.

Part I



Part II



Part III



Click here for an account of the match.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Help Men's Swimming at Arizona State

Texas Swimming shows us how.

Larry Owings vs. Dan Gable at the 1970 NCAA Wrestling Championships



If you look hard enough, YouTube inevitably yields some very interesting and historic footage. A few minutes ago, I tripped over this vintage footage of Dan Gable of the University of Iowa and Larry Owings of Washington University in the 1970 NCAA Men's Wrestling Championships. It would be the only loss of Gable's collegiate career.

There's no audio, as the person who put together the video simply set up an old projector and trained a video camera on the screen. You can even hear the projector running in the background, which only adds to the charm. The video comes in at a little more than nine minutes, but I think it's worth your time.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Decoding Title IX Doubletalk at Delaware

As we noted last week, while we were cheered that most of the track and field program at the University of Delaware was spared the axe when the school announced its new long-term plan for athletics, we would be remiss if we didn't mention that the cuts were kept to men's indoor track thanks to the imposition of roster caps on the rest of the men's athletic program.

So while most of the men's track team will survive, it will come at the cost of limiting opportunities for other male athletes -- and that's something that didn't survive the notice of Bob Button at Texas Swimming, who put together this amusing version of point/counterpoint to mock the school's overall plan:
Plan: Align number of varsity sports with peer institutions.

Translation: If other schools have mis-managed their athletic departments, it's a great excuse for us to follow their lead and drop a sport or two.

Plan: Adhere to roster management numbers.

Translation: Women's rosters will include any female who ever indicated an interest in the sport. Men's rosters will exclude most males who would gladly walk on and pay their own way.

Plan: Establish fundraising goals for all varsity sports. Progressively increase fundraising results.

Translation: Swimming had better get a copy of Arizona's donor list.
One last question that Bob asks, among many: why didn't the school, like Western Illinois University, use an interest survey instead of quotas to prove compliance?

Why indeed?

Not Buying the Myles Brand Line on Title IX

Texas Swimming takes a closer look at some of the dust getting kicked up in the comments thread of a US News and World Report blog post about Myles Brand and his edict on public statements about Title IX.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

CSC Supporter Arno Niemand Inducted Into National Wrestling Hall of Fame

Congratulations to Arno Niemand, a long-time supporter of the College Sports Council, upon his induction to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame:
Niemand wrestled at Cornell from 1952-54 and was a varsity starter at 137 pounds, where he helped the Big Red to place second at the EIWA tournament and third at the NCAAs in 1953. Throughout his life, Niemand has continued to support the sport of wrestling, and in 2008 received the FILA Gold Star, which is the highest award given to an individual by the world governing body of wrestling. He was also inducted into the Cornell Hall of Distinguished Wrestling Alumni as part of the 2006-07 class.

In 1960, he began to work for Niemand Industries where soon after he served as President and CEO. In 1990, he founded Body Bar Systems, which sells fitness products worldwide. His company was the pioneer sponsor of the Women's National Team that competed in the Olympic Games in 2004.

Body Bar International also sponsors annual collegiate wrestling tournaments, including the Big Red's Body Bar Invitational held each November.

Niemand has contributed major resources to several elite national and local youth clubs around the country. Niemand has also supported the National Wrestling Coaches Association's educational program Building Leaders for Life and the College Sports Councils advocacy against the consequences of Title IX interpretations on the sport of wrestling.
UPDATE: More praise for all the inductees at Wrestling Talk.

Another Blogger for Title IX Reform

Vere Loqui is wondering out loud about Myles Brand and Title IX.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The WIU Title IX Option ...

... Gets some more attention in this article, as does our friend Allison Kasic.

CSC Chairman Takes on Myles Brand's Code of Silence on Title IX

Over at Inside Higher Education, the Web site is running a piece from College Sports Council chairman Eric Pearson on NCAA President Myles Brand's recent statements on how member schools shouldn't blame Title IX for future cuts in men's athletic programs.

The entire text of the article appears below:
Myles Brand’s Code of Silence

By Eric Pearson

Myles Brand, president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, has been embarking lately on a peculiar public relations campaign. With NCAA member institutions increasingly worried about the consequences of Title IX, a federal statute that governs the gender distribution of athletic opportunity, Brand has been loudly urging them all to, well, shut up about it.

On November 21, Brand told USA Today, “My expectation is that over the next year or two we are going to see more cuts of men’s teams and so I am trying, frankly, to pre-empt the argument against Title IX … and dissuade universities from going public with this approach.”

Brand’s forecast was based on shrinking budgets in a period of economic decline. But it’s not the first time he has tried to silence the debate about Title IX enforcement. When the NCAA and the U.S. Olympic Committee met in 2005 to discuss the tragic and ongoing decimation of men’s collegiate teams, Brand insisted on this ground rule: “While the impacts of Title IX are likely to be relevant to the Task Force’s deliberations, consideration of the merits or scope of the law as enforced and proposals for the modification of the law or its enforcement are not.”

Incredibly, Brand has even stiff-armed the federal government itself when its representatives have asked him for straight talk on Title IX. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights called the NCAA to testify last May about why Brand has fought against colleges’ surveying their own students on athletic interest, which is an alternative way to comply with the law. Asked point blank how institutions ought to solicit student input, the NCAA offered no answer. Last year, when the U.S. Government Accountability Office asked the NCAA for school-by-school data on athletic participation — the key measure of Title IX’s impact — the NCAA refused to provide it and to this day keeps the information under lock and key.

Brand’s intransigence seems an especially troubling posture for a former university president, whom you might hope would regard open and free discourse as a high virtue. It is stranger still since in his current office he is supposed to be fostering the interests of college athletes, not papering over the harms that are causing teams to be eliminated.

In the six years that Brand has led the NCAA, the lion’s share of teams that have been eliminated are men’s programs — which many coaches and administrators say is a result of Title IX’s strict gender requirements. Many of the men’s teams that remain have to endure a fixed roster cap that shuts out male athletes in order to meet Title IX’s proportionality rule.

For their part, colleges around the country are agonized about the compliance bind they face. Universities such as Fresno State, Rutgers, James Madison and Ohio have said explicitly and with real emotion that Title IX is the major factor in their decision to select men’s teams for elimination. These wrenching decisions are being made by conscientious administrators who, it must be noted, do themselves no favors by citing the truth about Title IX enforcement. Their candor earns them the wrath of advocacy groups on both sides of the issue, including ours.

But on his blog, the Double-A Zone, Brand effectively calls those administrators liars. “Title IX is an excuse and I’m not happy that some schools have come out and blamed Title IX for the cutting of sports,” he said on his podcast. “It isn’t Title IX that’s doing it.”

As for the athletes themselves, Brand doesn’t want to hear from them, either. Although the spirit of Title IX is to accommodate the interest of students that wish to participate, Brand has fought tooth and nail against allowing colleges to survey those students directly. The top objection stated in his open letter on the matter? “[It] permits schools to use surveys alone ... as a means to assess female students’ interest in sports.”

Got that? Simply asking young women whether they want to play sports is too much for Brand. His second reason is that surveys might somehow perpetuate “stereotypes that discourage [women] from participating.” That’s pretty galling from a man who apparently believes that young women can’t think for themselves and so others should make decisions for them.

Even though the Department of Education — the enforcers of the Title IX regulations — has encouraged schools to implement surveys, only one of Brand’s member institutions, Western Illinois, has dared to defy his edict.

But Brand found much more like-minded company during a trip he made a few weeks ago to China as a guest of their Ministry of Education. “As I talked with those both inside and outside the universities, there was one thing that … distinguished the current social milieu in America from that of China,” Brand wrote on his blog. “There was almost a complete lack of cynicism … a common attitude that I found remarkably refreshing. There was some willingness to disagree … with those in authority but it always occurred not with the kind of cynicism that takes any situation, even a very good one, and focuses on the negative.”

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that Brand admires a totalitarian government’s methods of dictating public discourse. After all, he comes from the world of academia, where campus speech codes are all too common. Perhaps the NCAA would like a more sweeping edict: thou shalt not disagree with Myles Brand.

Eric Pearson is chairman of College Sports Council, a coalition of coaches, athletes and parents that seeks changes in Title IX.

More Details on Delaware's Decision to Cut Men's Indoor Track

The following note was sent on Wednesday to members of the Save Delaware Men's XC and Track and Field Group on Facebook by Mike DiGennaro:
Yesterday the University of Delaware’s Board of Trustees met to vote on many issues pertaining to the future of the University. A major issue that impacts us as a running community was their decision to adhere to Title IX issues. As rumored, the University was debating the possibility of dropping its Men’s XC, Indoor, and Outdoor track and field programs.

We believe the because of our outspoken support as a community of Alumni, friends, coaches, and fellow runners, the University decided to keep XC and Outdoor track and field, but downgrade Indoor Track and Field to a club sport. They also added Women’s Golf to their list of NCAA sports and made roster cuts on other men's teams. This decision puts them in Title IX compliance.

While this is not the outcome that we had hoped, it is still much better than the initial prediction, which was that they were going to cut all three teams. We believe that they listened to us and understood the importance of keeping this running program.

We are very optimistic that the programs will succeed under this decision and that very little will change. Coach Fischer is hopeful that he can adjust.

Thank you so much for standing up for the teams. All of the letters written on this page were hand delivered to the President and Athletic Director the day before they made their decision, and we are certain that it made a difference. Had we done nothing, the news today could have been very grim.

Please continue to support Track and Field and XC at the University of Delaware.
Interesting. Initial reports only mentioned the loss of varsity status of Men's Indoor Track, not the institution of roster caps on other men's sports.

So while Men's Track and Field and Cross Country survived, other teams will have to live with reduced rosters. The bottom line: fewer opportunities overall for male athletes. All in all, just another day at the office for Title IX.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Deciphering the Title IX Double-Talk

The recent double-talk from Myles Brand and the NCAA is so zany and contradictory we thought it might be a good time to have a quick reality check.

First, to recap, Brand recently told USA Today: "My expectation is that over the next year or two we are going to see more cuts of men's teams and so I am trying, frankly, to pre-empt the argument against Title IX, an unfair argument, I believe, and dissuade universities from going public with this approach."

Okay, so Brand is instructing his member schools not to cite Title IX as a reason when they have to cut men's teams. That's patently clear.

Many of the proportionality advocates think Brand's approach is terrific. Ann Bartow at the Feminist Law Professors Blog wrote: "The NCAA tries to prevent men from blaming Title IX for cuts to sports that are actually recession related. And I'd bet most readers join me in hoping this works!" [Exclamation hers.]

Erin Buzuvis at the Title IX Blog and Megan Hueter at Because I Played Sports both weighed in with similar applause.

So, an obvious question arises: Is or is not Title IX a factor when shrinking budgets force schools to cut teams?

Well, at College Sports Council, we'd say of course it is. The teams getting cut are men's teams, the administrators making the cuts are acknowledging that -- because the three-part test makes it impossible for them to cut women's teams.

But get this -- Myles Brand apparently agrees! Here's what he said when USA TODAY confronted him with the three-part compliance requirements. "Title IX is a factor because fairness is a factor."

And look -- Erin Buzuvis agrees too! She wrote, "no one is denying that Title IX operates once the decision to make cuts has been made. The regulations appropriately and fairly operate to protect whichever sex has proportionately fewer opportunities to begin with (usually women) from taking the hit."

So, that's settled too -- Title IX IS indeed a factor in those circumstances.

Look, Brand may think the Title IX pressure is delightful. Erin Buzuvis may think it's the epitome of justice. At CSC we think it's appalling. But these are semantic differences -- we are characterizing the same situation with either praise or pejoratives.

The facts that remain are 1) Title IX is a factor in cuts that are happening to men's teams; 2) Brand wants to muzzle his own members and prevent them from speaking that plain truth, and; 3) Some notable Title IX bloggers think what Brand is doing is not just okay but a positive thing.

What Brand and his supporters are doing is intellectual dishonesty of the most galling sort. Not only is their position manifestly self-contradictory but they want to silence anyone who points that out or disagrees with them.

Here's the motto across the masthead at Feminist Law Professors: "When we speak we are afraid our word will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak."

The motto at Indiana University, where Brand was formerly the president, is: "Lux et Veritas" -- Light and Truth.

What do you know -- we agree on that too! I guess we just take those sentiments a little more seriously than others do.

Title IX Scuttles High School Basketball Booster Club's Plans in Pennsylvania

The parents of the boys who play for the Elk Lake (Pa.) High School Basketball Team want to be able to send their kids to a basketball camp. The problem: money. So the parents approached the school board to ask if they could charge admission to games to raise the funds.

Their plan: students would be charged $1, adults $2. They'd even sell season passes to families for the princely sum of $10 per season.

The school board rejected the application. The reason: Title IX:
Superintendent William Bush commended the club for attending the meeting to give suggestions but said that he had some concerns.

"A few things strike me about this," Bush said. "The proposal is only for boys' basketball, and with Title IX there may be some legal ramifications if we didn't do the same for the girls' team."

Title IX is a federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in educational institutions which is part of the Educational Amendments Act of 1972.

Bush said that the district may have to look into charging for other sports if it decided to let the booster club charge for the boys' games.

"We don't want anything to be seen as preferential treatment," Bush said.

He also noted that the district would end up cutting profit margins from charging for the games because a person would have to be hired to collect money at games.

"The district has had a lot of input from people that are appreciative about not paying for admission," Bush said.

He also noted that if an admission charge was taken at the door it would not go directly to the basketball team, but it would be put into the general fund.
I wonder what the architects of Title IX would think if they discovered that their landmark law to guarantee equal access to higher education was being used to bully a high school booster club?

At Delaware, the Culprit Was Title IX

Somebody didn't get the memo from NCAA President Myles Brand on cuts in men's athletic programs and Title IX -- and his name is University of Delaware Athletic Director Edgar Johnson. Last night, we reported that Delaware announced that as part of its long-term strategic plan for athletics, that the school would drop men's indoor track and add women's golf in order to promote compliance with Title IX.

Earlier today, Johnson reiterated that point:
As for dropping indoor track and adding women's golf, "It was never a money issue," Johnson said. "It was a Title IX issue.

"We have 100 more athletes than most of our peer institutions in the CAA. You look at a school like [James Madison]. They have six men's programs. I was just on the phone with the Ohio University athletic director and I was looking for his phone number. I clicked online and I saw they have six men's varsity sports and I thought to myself, 'Is that the wave of the future?'

"Our history and tradition have always been broad-based participation, but it's not as sustainable as it used to be."

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

University of Delaware Kills Men's Indoor Track

Buried in a story about the University of Delaware's strategic sports plan, we discover that men's indoor track will be demoted to club status next season in order to comply with Title IX:
But the athletics plan isn’t just about facilities. It also puts forth a competitive charge to strive for better finishes in the Colonial Athletic Association, specifically in the top one-third in every sport. Also, it pledges to “meet or exceed” statistical compliance with Title IX, the gender-equity law.

With that in mind, Delaware plans to add a women’s golf team “at our first opportunity, but I don’t think earlier than two years down the road,” athletic director Edgar Johnson said.

As a result, varsity men’s indoor track and field will be relegated to club status next year in an effort to meet Title IX standards, Johnson said. It has been a varsity sport since the 1966-67 school year, after the Delaware Field House, with what is now a 200-meter track, opened. The CAA does not, however, sponsor an indoor track championship.

There had been concern among many former UD cross country and track and field team members and those who follow those sports that cross country and outdoor track would also be dropped.

“We’ll still have the highest number of varsity sports in the CAA [23], equal to William & Mary,” said Johnson, who added that indoor track athletes may compete in many of the same meets as varsity teams as members of club teams or simply as individuals.

While pleased to have retained his men’s cross country and outdoor track programs, Jim Fischer, who coaches all three, lamented the loss of the varsity indoor program. With the CAA outdoor meet annually held early in the season, in mid-April, the indoor season provided an adequate preparation period.

“Even though the outdoor season is our main focus of track and field, most of the kids build up during the indoor season for the conference meet, which is the highlight of our season,” said Fischer.
While it's hard not to be relieved that the rest of the men's track and field team wasn't cut -- which was the fear up until earlier today -- it's disappointing that the only way Delaware saw around complying with the law was by cutting a men's program.

Disappointing, but all too familiar.

UPDATE: Welcome to readers of Phi Bets Cons and The Inkwell.

Decision on Men's Track and Field Due Tomorrow at Delaware


Details and a whole lot more over at UDReview.com. I'm pulling for them, and so should you.

Allison Kasic on Interest Surveys

Over at TownHall.com, our friend Allison Kasic takes a look at interest surveys and Title IX.

More Tales of Title IX Idiocy

Although I've written it before, I think it always bears repeating: the introduction of quotas will always create bizarre distortions in the long run. Here's just another example from the Daily Eastern News, a campus publication at Eastern University in Ohio:
It was only a little more than a year ago when Ryan McKay crossed the finish line in third place in the Ohio Valley Conference Championships sporting his red and white Gamecocks uniform. Now McKay, a graduate student at Eastern, will be switching to the blue and white Panther uniform for his first official collegiate track meet this January.

McKay's former school, Jacksonville State, did not have a men's track program in order for them to be in compliance with Title IX regulations.

"That was kind of frustrating because there was interest and we could have had a pretty decent men's track team," McKay said. "I didn't understand because it wasn't like they had to provide us with scholarships or anything, they just had to allow us to compete."

Jacksonville State has a women's track team but not one for the men, so McKay's coach would allow the guys that wanted to go to meets to run, but they were not allowed to score for a team, compete at conference championships, qualify for regionals or nationals.

"It was more about training because we couldn't score as an official member of a team or anything, some meets we couldn't even claim prizes or medals, which was kind of a bummer," McKay said.
How anyone can defend a system that results in athletes being shut out like this is beyond me.

Defenders of the Title IX quota system like to talk about the gains made by women in athletics over the last 36 years, and we should all be grateful for that progress. But can anyone tell me how a situation like the one described above created any new opportunities for female athletes?

Think about it for a moment: Jacksonville State fielded a men's track team without scholarships, and its members continued to compete even though they had no hope of ever winning any honors or recognition.

Monday, December 08, 2008

NY Times Runs Letter from CSC Chairman

In response to last week's New York Times series on the rise of club sports in collegiate athletics, College Sports Council Chairman Eric Pearson wrote the following letter to the editor that appeared in Saturday's newspaper:
To the Sports Editor:

The single biggest factor in the growth of club sports in college may be the stringent enforcement of Title IX, which makes it all but impossible to add men’s varsity teams. The vast majority of college club teams consist of male athletes, while most varsity teams on campus are for women.

The sad truth is that, because of Title IX’s gender quota restrictions, men’s club teams that apply to become varsity are shut out.

In the Big 12 Conference, to cite one example, men’s club soccer teams have been denied varsity status at every university, while their female counterparts enjoy full varsity sponsorship.

Men’s teams in myriad sports have also been told no, explicitly because of Title IX.

Instead of seeking out those male athletes who are barred from competing at the varsity level because of their gender, The Times presents a separate-but-equal picture that obscures real and troubling harms that are being done in college sports.

Eric Pearson
Washington

The writer is the chairman of the College Sports Council, a national coalition of coaches, athletes, parents and fans.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Lacrosse is Booming in North Carolina

At least according to this story at jdnews.com. Here's the paragraph that caught my eye:
With lacrosse a growing NCAA sport because of Title IX, Herbold said about 130 girls from the Baltimore area signed scholarships in lacrosse last month. That, he said, compared to about 60 boys - and 10 players each in football and basketball.
Of course, thanks to Title IX, schools like the University of Michigan can't add lacrosse as a varsity sport, thanks to the iron grip of the quota system.

Thoughts on Title IX, Scholarships and Archery

... From the Forsyth County Archery Club.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Thanks to Title IX, Separate but Equal Comes to College Athletics

The sports section of today's New York Times provided a real spit up your coffee moment this morning while I was reading a Bill Pennington piece entitled, "Dropped from Varsity Lineup, but no Longer Grumbling". I'll let you read the following passage, but to me, the argument seems to be that for some male athletes, separate but equal is just fine -- an argument that America decided it had enough of more than two generations ago:
“When Yale dropped water polo in 1991, I was disappointed and upset like everyone else associated with the program,” said Chip Spear, a former varsity player who volunteers to coach Yale’s club team. “But now, I think the athletes are better off in the club model. Unless you want to be a water polo player in the Olympic Games, a club team epitomizes the athletic experience in a more pure form.”

David Skophammer, a freshman Yale water polo player, had the opportunity to play varsity water polo at N.C.A.A. institutions in his native California last year but instead chose Yale.

“You are compromising a little quality but getting a lot more back from the overall experience,” he said.

When Jim Giunta, the executive director of the National Collegiate Wrestling Association, became involved in the organization in 1997, he did it to give dropped varsity wrestling programs a place to compete until they could be reinstated as varsity teams.

“Everyone was talking about Title IX effects, and I thought those policies might eventually level out,” Giunta said, “so our goal was to posture ourselves as a bunch of schools that were ready to be brought back. But some of us have come to realize that institutions have been using Title IX as a cop-out. The real reason they are cutting sports is to save money.

“So we still encourage teams to be reinstated in the N.C.A.A. if they can, but that’s rare. We’ve moved on and have a strong association of thriving wrestling programs.”
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when reading arguments like these, which quite frankly, seem to be the ivory tower's answer to the Stockholm Syndrome:
  • When men who participate in club sports apply for varsity status, they're more or less actively discouraged. When female athletes apply, it usually triggers a federal investigation. In essence, opportunities for female athletes to compete are always protected, even if little or no interest is demonstrated by the student body. However, a male athlete's opportunity to compete will always be under threat. In a nation that established the idea of equal protection under the laws, the current reality ought to be considered offensive;
  • Many colleges have policies regarding club teams that only allow students to coach the teams. So, in essence, you have students coaching students. Many of the educational values of sports get lost in this model because of the quality of mentoring from the coach;
  • Many club teams are restricted to practicing only a few days per week because the athletic departments won’t share facilities. This can be a safety issue in sports like wrestling where you have to be in shape or you run a high risk of getting injured;
  • While finances might be a factor that universities consider when they downsize their athletic programs, the current Title IX interpretation clearly determines that mostly men’s teams will get dropped;
  • Lastly, being that over 100 previously discontinued intercollegiate wrestling programs have resurfaced as club programs, isn’t that clear evidence of the overwhelming interest in wrestling? Isn’t Title IX supposed to be all about providing opportunities based on interest?
Consider for a moment if we turned the tables on this story, and proposed that instead of encouraging women to apply for varsity status, they should be happy with club teams and self-financed program budgets that lead to a "pure form," of the athletic experience?

Something tells me that quota advocates would seek to hang us from the highest tree on campus, and they'd be right to -- which is exactly why the ideas posited by this article are so odious.

A Modest Proposal to Keep Men's Track and Field at Bemidji State

We've been following the potential elimination of men's track and field at Bemidji State for a couple of weeks now, and Mike Hougen, a track coach at a high school in Iowa, has come up with an idea to save the team. The following is excerpted from a letter to the editor that appeared in today's edition of the Bemidji Pioneer:
My proposal is to increase funding to women’s sports by giving each women’s team five room vouchers, and increase the number of vouchers for the women’s teams that already receive them. Right now, how many dorm rooms are empty, but are still being heated? There would be no loss in giving these rooms away to the women’s sports teams. How many more girls would come if we could give them a scholarship in the form of a room voucher worth around $3,600? Residence life should consider this an investment, since athletes seem to be the quickest group of students to move off campus, bringing their friends who are not in sports with them.

[...]

All this proposal requires is cooperation between Residential Life, athletics and the administration, and everybody wins. Women get more funding, Residential Life could possibly get more people to live in the dorms and buy meal plans, the university gets to keep a program that has recently produced multiple All-Americans, a national champion, Olympic trials representative, and over $270,000 in tuition to the university.
It's an interesting thought -- offer more scholarships in the form of room vouchers in order to attract more female athletes and move closer to proportionality. I wonder how the university will respond.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Thoughts of a Gymnastics Fan

With Title IX leading to the elimination of so many programs, this fan can't help but worry about the future of the sport.