Title IX in athletics: Unjustly blamed
On January 19, 2011, the University of Delaware cut two men’s sports teams: cross country and outdoor track and field. UD’s athletic department said the move was to stay in compliance with Title IX. However, UD is not the only college cutting men’s sports. Just recently, the University of North Dakota cut two of their men’s teams. UND’s athletic director said that Title IX was a factor in the school’s decision to cut the programs.
Title IX was created in 1972 to end gender discrimination in education programs that receive federal financial assistance. The law has made massive strides in advancing gender equality, especially when it comes to women’s sports. Many young women were given the chance to play sports that women previously could not participate in. However, Title IX has become a common explanation to why men’s collegiate sports teams are being cut. So how could a federal law that promotes gender equality like Title IX create an inequality for men?
The truth of the matter is that Title IX unjustly shoulders the blame for the cutting of men’s sports teams. College athletic departments only have themselves to blame. Mismanaged athletic budgets lead to the termination of men’s teams. College athletic departments are simply too proud to admit it, so they make Title IX their scapegoat. This was the case for both the University of Delaware and the University of North Dakota. UD cut two men’s teams in order to pour more money into its football program. UND cut two men’s teams as part of a $2.4 million budget cut within its athletics department. Title IX was unfortunately being used as a diversion for the real reason behind why these teams were cut.
How could colleges and universities mismanage a budget so poorly that it has to cut a men’s team you ask? Well, the answer is surprisingly simple: football. Football has the highest budget of any other college sport. College football programs are also allowed to give up to 85 scholarships. Unfortunately, there is no female sport that can counterbalance the sport of football in terms of scholarships and funding. Due to Title IX, schools must match this amount of funding for women’s sports, thus leaving the other men’s sports teams with very little to no money. In “Rethinking How Title IX Is Applied”, Frank Deford suggests to separate football from college athletic departments. He proposes to put football under the category of entertainment or appeasement of the alumni. Doing this would be in line with Title IX since football has no female analog. Once football is separated, the sport no longer has to comply with Title IX.
Even with the separation of football, Title IX is not completely in the clear. U.S. Congress must revise Title IX so it supports not only equality between men and women, but between men’s sports teams and women’s sports teams. A new revision to Title IX should be that each school should have the same set amount of money allotted to each team based on the number of student-athletes in the sport. Another rule should be that the male athlete-to-female athlete ratio should be exactly 50/50. With these new rules, women’s collegiate athletics would be exactly equal in terms of funding and number of athletes to men’s athletics.
Let’s take a fictional college, College X, for example. College A has a $74,000 budget for athletics and has 74 athletes currently enrolled. Therefore, College X’s per-athlete spending would be $1,000. Let’s also say College X has 3 sports: men’s and women’s basketball and women’s rowing. College X’s basketball teams both have 12 roster spots, thus allotting them a $12,000 budget for each team. The rowing team has 50 women on the team, thus giving them a $50,000 budget. Yet, according to the new Title IX rules, College X would be in violation because the number of male athletes is less than the number of female athletes. However, if College X added a men’s swim team with 50 roster spots, College X would no longer be in violation of the new Title IX rules.
In regards to football, the new Title IX revision should not allow the football budget at a certain school to exceed 33% of the overall athletics budget. Going back to the example of College X, College X’ s football team could not have a budget higher than $24,420, exactly 33% of College X’s $74,000 athletic budget. 33% may seem like a lot of money and a significant portion of the athletics budget, but this is only a fraction of what football programs are used to spending. “According to stats culled by Sports on Earth writer Patrick Hruby, at Rutgers, one of the slashed teams — men’s tennis — had a budget of $175,000, which is roughly what the football team spent on hotel rooms for its home games. And between 1986 and 2009, the average salaries of football coaches at 44 big-time programs rose from $273,000 to more than $2 million.” (Zimmerman) With these new rules in place, football budgets will not be outrageously high compared to the budgets of other sports teams.
With this revision to Title IX, athletic departments will be forced to properly manage a budget. Football budgets will be kept in line with the other sports programs. Most importantly, these new rules will promote equality between both men’s and women’s sports just as Title IX was designed to do.
Mark Wellborn is a freshman at the university. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.