Title IX and Women’s College Athletic Programs

Research paper by Michael Lancaster

Another example of men’s sports being cut is the story of Marquette University’s wrestling squad:

Marquette University’s wrestling squad was cancelled because of a gender quota. The university had provided only minimal help to the athletes as far as money is concerned. The Marquette wrestling team was almost completely funded by private donations from alumni.

The school only provided money for utilities in the practice area. Former Marquette wrestling coach Moyer commented, “They simply had too many male athletes in their athletic department. The only reason they were eliminated was because they were men, which clearly violates everything that Title IX is about” (Cook 2004).

Marquette is one of 171 college wrestling programs to be eliminated in the last 30 years. While nearly three-quarters of America’s institutions, particularly the smaller and wealthier schools, increased female athletic opportunities by adding teams such as lacrosse, golf, and crew, the balance did it by subtracting men’s teams. The total of defunct men’s programs is over 400. Wrestling, tennis, gymnastics, golf, and track have been hit the hardest. Many blame Title IX (Cook 2004).

While men’s teams and scholarships are being cut, university athletic directors have the difficult task of finding women to join intercollegiate teams so that more male teams and athletes can continue to compete. The rise of female crew teams is an excellent example of a program that is often used just so more male athletes can compete and have athletic scholarships. Women’s crew can offer a maximum of 18 full scholarships. While men’s programs across the country were cut, the number of female crew teams more than doubled between 1995 and 1999. This was not a direct result of interest in women’s rowing. During this same period, female high school rowing dwindled in numbers, and interest in the sport was waning.

Women’s rowing provided athletic directors an opportunity to help in trying to save male programs. In order to reach their quotas, colleges across the nation have given full scholarships to female walk-ons who never rowed in their life. Many athletic directors and coaches have resorted to walking up to any tall and athletic-looking girl and offering her a scholarship if she joins the varsity crew team. This is what Title IX has come to, offering women full athletic scholarships to participate in a sport they have never participated in just to save the scholarship of deserving male athletes (Suggs 2003).

To state that women are less or not as interested in competitive sports as men is heresy. So federal policy causes universities to eliminate men’s teams and male athletes or face expensive litigation (Thelin 2000).

The other option instead of cutting teams is to offer new sports, such as the example above, in order to keep the men’s athletic program. According to Congress’s General Accounting Office, colleges eliminated 171 men’s wrestling teams, 84 men’s tennis teams, and 56 men’s gymnastics teams between 1981 and 1999. Men’s teams are being decimated because universities must comply with Title IX laws; this is clearly unfair and not what Title IX laws set out to do (GAO 2001).

As discussed earlier, each individual school has three rules set up for each institution to become NCAA compliant and follow the Title IX rules. By saying that, it is up to each individual school to decide which one of these three points they wish to follow in order to be compliant. They do not need to follow all three rules; however, it has become apparent that many of the schools follow all three of these points, which brings forth the problem that more women need to compete in sports, which is now forcing male sports to dwindle:

* Point Number One: Schools used to be filled with more men than women. The percentages used to favor men about 70/30. However, that has slowly started to change. It went from 70/30 to 50/50, and today there are more women than men at university. Due to this increase of women in college, colleges must cut men’s teams and create women’s teams to make the percentages proportionate to the enrollment (NCAA 2005).
* Point Number Two: The underrepresented sex is easy to determine. Title IX came into effect because the women’s right to attend university with the same opportunity as men were being violated; therefore, women must be the underrepresented sex. The underrepresented sex is now men, and men are now being unfairly treated as a result of Title IX laws. Schools must show that they are expanding athletic opportunities and are providing equal opportunities for both sexes. If a school continues to provide more opportunities for women, they have satisfied this requirement (NCAA 2005).
* Point Number Three: Schools are being forced to include sports that are not as popular for women as they are for men, such as ice hockey and lacrosse. There is a large amount of men who participate in these male-dominated sports, but in order to be in compliance, there must be opportunities for women to compete in these sports also. Since Title IX, many schools still offer these sports for women, but they no longer offer them for men. More men are interested in sports like ice hockey and lacrosse, yet it is very easy for a men’s team to be cut, while a women’s team is kept because of point number three and Title IX compliance laws (NCAA 2005).

This paper is in 10 parts. This is part 7.

Part 1: Unfortunately, I had my scholarship as well as my fellow male teammates’ scholarships cut at Nicholls State University so that the athletic program would be NCAA Title IX compliant.

Part 2: Nearly every educational institution is a recipient of federal funds and thus is required to comply with Title IX (NCAA 2005).

Part 3: According to NCAA.org, athletics programs are considered educational programs and activities.

Part 4: Since Title IX’s inception in 1972, women and girls have made great strides in obtaining gender equity not only in the classroom but also on the playing field.

Part 5: There is nothing in Title IX or its policies that require schools to cut or reduce men’s opportunities in order to be Title IX compliant.

Part 6: The results clearly show that women are still not receiving an equal opportunity as their male counterparts.

Part 7: Women’s rowing provided athletic directors an opportunity to help in trying to save male programs.

Part 8: Many other universities face a dilemma when economic reality and Title IX collide head-on.

Part 9: There has been much protest over the elimination of men’s teams over the years that has seen many cases in the courts.

Part 10: The law should be changed to limit football programs’ overbearing influence within Title IX restrictions.

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The sport of rowing has been in existence for as long as humans have traveled the water by boat.

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