According to a recent report by the New York Times, research has shown that universities have been “padding” the numbers in order to comply with Title IX. The report doesn’t cite how many or which schools, but does say that “The Times analyzed public records from more than 20 colleges and universities and federal participation statistics from all 345 institutions at the NCAA’s highest level”.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Title IX, it is a federal law that was enacted in 1972 to eliminate sexism in terms of athletic opportunities at the collegiate level. Basically, it required all Division I universities to comply with the following math equation:
Women’s athletic scholarships = Men’s athletic scholarships
Sounds reasonable right? Equal opportunities for both men and women. The law had the right idea, they just missed the target horribly. Unfortunately, or fortunately if you are a female, here’s the equation schools actually end up trying to abide by:
Women’s athletic scholarships = 85 football scholarships + other Men’s scholarships
Think about that for a second. If men’s scholarships are say 150 total, that means there are only 65 non-football scholarships for men and 150 non-football scholarships for women. So in this scenario, a non-football playing male has 57% less chance of getting a scholarship than a female. Fair? That’s your call, but I find it hard to understand how penalizing every male athlete that doesn’t play football is “fair”.
The reality is that while most schools have a similar number of men’s and women’s athletic teams, non-revenue (read anything other than football and basketball) men’s sports like volleyball, tennis, soccer, lacrosse, golf and swimming operate on a shoestring budget. While comparable women’s sports are almost always fully or largely funded with scholarship money, the men’s teams survive on few, if any, scholarships.
The real travesty has occurred only recently though. With the latest economic downturn, athletic departments were forced to cut costs. Instead of doing away with costly football programs, which contrary to popular belief, hardly ever make money, most schools started slashing all of these non-revenue producing sports making it even harder for non-football male athletes.
And these people are surprised that these universities fudged the numbers? They are acting as if schools are purposely trying to keep female athletes out, when all they are really trying to do is maintain the status quo and not eliminate numerous athletic programs and scholarships. This is reminiscent of people pulling out old legal books and finding laws that said you couldn’t wear loafers after 5 PM or something ridiculous like that. This law needs to be re-visited and revised. Title IX, your target is correct, but your aim is way off the mark.