Title IX, the federal guidelines created in 1972 to foster greater gender equity in college athletics, has been good and bad for many financially strapped colleges.
While significantly more women have been participating in varsity sports as a result of Title IX, some critics claim that the regulations have had a harmful effect on men’s athletics.
A lawsuit filed against the University of Miami (Ohio), by a group of male athletes highlights this dilemma. In order to gain compliance with Title IX, the school dropped several men’s sports. The group claims that Miami is performing the same gender discrimination that is banned by Title IX.
A cursory look at the facts might support such an assumption. More than 40 colleges dropped wrestling programs since the inception of Title IX. Some schools have dropped traditional sports such as baseball and football.
The real reason many schools have taken such extreme measures rests in the high cost of maintaining football programs. For example, while athletic departments allocate a few scholarships to tennis or golf teams football programs often need dozens of scholarships to stay competitive. Football teams account for more than 70 percent of men’s athletic scholarships, according to a Washington Post article.
Thus schools often must decide between cutting football programs or allocating less funds to other men’s sports. In a highly publicized move, Boston University got rid of its football team in 1997. Many other colleges have cut other men’s programs instead.
The goal of Title IX is to get more women involved in college athletics. But rather than add women’s sports programs, many schools have met proportional representation guidelines simply by cutting men’s sports programs. In these cases, no one wins.
Ideally, universities would add women’s sports to meet Title IX regulations, but for colleges that lack adequate funds, the only option is to cut men’s programs.
More regulations aren’t the answer. Colleges that can’t afford to add women’s programs without cutting men’s sports only should need to show good faith and progress in meeting Title IX guidelines.