Did you know the University of California was looking to cut five sports at the end of the year? They cited budget reasons as the main cause of the cuts but after much student protesting they decided to reinstate three of the five: women’s gymnastics and lacrosse, and men’s rugby. Interestingly, Cal was able to save the two women’s sports because of rugby; the money that was donated to save rugby was used to help fund the women’s programs. Cal reasons that they had to bring back the women’s sports in order to be in compliance with Title IX even though the other two sports on the chopping block – baseball and (men’s) gymnastics – have won national championships, six combined; gymnastics and lacrosse have won zero, and forgetting that the men’s sports have a history and tradition; baseball won the very first College World Series in 1947 and gymnastics has produced 11 Olympians.
There’s been recent talk of Title IX thanks to an in-depth article by The New York Times essentially saying schools are fudging numbers because it's hard to generate interest in women’s sports. Schools have three ways in which they can comply with Title IX:
- show proportionality of athletes to students on campus
- demonstrate a history of increasing sports
- met the interest and ability of the underrepresented
Some of the tactics colleges have used to get around the rules are to add athletes to rosters that never competed and count men as women on women’s rosters; included in this were the 2010 Women’s NCAA Basketball Champion Texas A&M Aggies.
I've actually witnessed this firsthand. I coached a young woman who is heading off to school in the fall and she decided to play golf figuring it would be less time consuming so she could focus on school. The swim coach at the college found out she swam and approached her on several occasions to join the team. (In full disclosure, this girl is a not a standout in the water.) The college coach said that the girl should just join the team so that she can at least get her equipment in case she changes her mind and that she did not have to make every practice because of scheduling conflicts.
As an athlete, being told that I don’t have to come to practice, it’s basically an open invitation to skip whenever I don’t feel like going and as a coach, in a sport that demands constant practice (typical colleges have two-a-days), I wouldn’t want someone that isn’t fully committed and putting in the effort.
Sadly, things like this go on all the time because the fact is the interest in women’s sports just isn’t there. By forcing schools to comply with Title IX, they’re doing exactly what the law was suppose to eliminate – discrimination. Keeping Title IX the same, without any changes, will continue to hurt the arm that feeds it. At most school’s the men’s programs financially support the athletic department and by continuing to cut programs, and count football which dwarfs all other sports in bodies, the NCAA will continue to have schools lying, aside from Jim Tressel of course.
As for Cal, they were able to raise enough money to save the baseball team which is currently ranked 37th in the country. Gymnastics hasn’t been so lucky, they have raised about $2 million which is half of what they need, so for all the pommel horse and floor exercise enthusiast out there, go here and you can help save some Bears.