Saturday, June 18, 2011

Title IX and Proportionality

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In May of 001, Tim Wittman, the head wrestling coach at Bucknell University, gathered together the members of his wrestling team to break the news to them that the university was eliminating their sport from the athletic program. These young men had worked so hard to achieve what they wanted to do, when it suddenly slipped out form underneath them, wrestling was really over for them! One of these Bucknell wrestlers, Ben Chunko, whishes he would have known that the school had been considering cutting the program for five years (Fitzpatrick, 00). If he would have known, it would have saved him money, disappointment, and the panic of not knowing what to do (Bucknell, 001).

Also, at Marquette University, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the wrestling program was cut this past year. This program has gone through much obstacles to stay alive for almost ten years. Back in 1, the college was going to drop the program, because they didn’t have enough money to back the wrestling team along with adding another women’s program. All the funds for the team came from within the team. Every year they had to raise the money themselves; they raised between $60,000 and $100,000 every year and they never ran into a deficit. This burden of raising money was very hard on the wrestlers because it is hard enough without that burden to be a student-athlete. Finally in June of 001 the news came that the wrestling program was done. This cut was due to the college failing to increase the number of female athletes (Kinkhabwala, 00).

Bucknell and Marquette are just two of the many examples of male athletes having their athletic opportunities ripped away from them, forcing them to either transfer to another school or abandon the sport that they love. Some of these athletes are on scholarship, some are not. Since 17, 170 men’s wrestling programs, 80 men’s tennis programs, 70 men’s gymnastics programs, and 45 men’s track and field programs have been cut, as indicated by the General According Office (Goldberg, 00). That is over 80,000 athletic opportunities!

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You may be thinking to yourselves that “surely these athletes must have done something wrong to deserve such a punishment.” The plain and simple fact that their athletic programs were cut, is because they are male. Now that you see the devastating effects, let me first explain to you what is the cause, and then why it is such a problem, and what has been done by the victims of it.

It is called Tile IX, and it is part of the Educational Amendments of 17. It prohibits the discrimination in educational programs, including intercollegiate athletics, on the basis of sex. Although, you may be thinking to yourself, “Wow! That doesn’t sound so bad, it sounds pretty fair.” Well, seven years later, in 17, a policy was added to Title IX; the Intercollegiate Athletic Policy. This was created by a regulated bureaucracy, forcing schools to have an equal proportion of male and female athletes to male and female students enrolled in the school (Shontz, 00). So, say if a school has 40% males and 60% females, under Title IX they would be required to have 40% male athletes in their athletic programs and 60% female. Title IX has been devastating male sports programs at universities all over the nation. The legislation was created in order to end discrimination against women athletes, though, because of the unfair proportionality quota, it has created discrimination against the males instead of creating equality between the genders.

At Bucknell in 001, 41. percent of its athletes were women. However, 48.7 percent of the school’s undergraduates were female. It didnt matter that the university sponsored 8 varsity sports, 14 each for men and women. It didnt matter that the university added womens golf and womens water polo in 18. It mattered only that the percentages didnt match, and as a result, the school decided it needed to have fewer male athletes, cutting wrestling (Shontz, 00).

There are also two other ways to be in compliance with the law; one is that an institution may demonstrate a history and continuing practice of program expansion for the underrepresented sex. And the second is that they may fully and effectively accommodate the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex (Silver, 00). As you may be able to tell, both of those requirements are pretty hard to measure. So therefore, in order for an institution to be out of the danger of lawyers and lawsuits, they must meet the proportionality quota.

In order to satisfy this proportionality quota, tax-payer supported colleges eliminate male athletic programs that have hundreds of thousands of participants. They worry about being in compliance with these quotas, because if they are not they become susceptible to lawyers and lawsuits and could also lose funds. Athletic Directors have not been coming up with better solutions to the problem, they have been taking the easy way out and just axing men’s minor sports.

Adding to this, is the problem of football making compliance with Title IX very difficult and almost impossible. Many feminists and supporters of Title IX are claiming that the closures of men’s minor sports are due to men’s football sucking up all the resources. This is not true! College football is usually the only profitable sport at most schools. The only thing that football does is cause proportionality to be very hard to reach, because football has so many male athletes on their rosters. This large number of male athletes causes the playing field to be tilted, when there is no female athletic program to balance it out. Schools like Miami, who have powerhouse football teams, are forced into cutting back dramatically on mens programs. For example, Miamis track program, where women are given 18 scholarships and men are only given two (Brady, 00).

Some may think that this problem could be solved by simply just adding women’s teams without cutting men’s teams. Yet this requires money and many schools lack the funds to meet such demands. Jim Leach, a Republican from Iowa, plans on introducing a bill to provide federal funding for college fellowships to help both men and women participants (“Title IX,” 00). This would give more of a balance between both the men’s and women’s minor sports and larger sports like football and basketball.

Because wrestling has been probably the biggest victim of Title IX, the National Wrestling Coaches Association has filed a suit seeking to have proportionality overturned as a measure of Title IX compliance (“Title IX,” 00). Although, the NWCA does not oppose Title IX itself, they only oppose the proportionality quotas. They do not want the change the basic premise of Title IX, which is that men and women must be afforded equal athletic opportunities.

As a female athlete and as the daughter of a wrestling coach, I feel that Title IX is not the correct way to impose gender equity in sports. I could not agree more with the wrestling coaches. I have been around wrestling my entire life and I hate to hear about college wrestling programs going down because of Title IX, yet I also hate to hear about women’s athletics given less support than men’s. According to The National Women’s Law Center, in 17 there were 1,85 female athletes and in 001 there were 150,11. This is unquestionably a good thing because more females are participating in athletics. Yet this increase is at the expense of male athletes.

In conclusion, if this proportionality policy is not changed from Title IX, then many more men’s sports, like Bucknell wrestling, will become no more. According to experts, who have looked at the effects of “proportionality” in college sports, there may be no male sports teams at the college level, except football, basketball and hockey within five to ten years.

Schools are being pushed into a corner and their response is to get rid of men’s minor sports; along with this football doesn’t help the situation either, because of it‘s weight on the side of male athletes. There definitely needs to be something done and I think that the National Wrestling Coaches Association is on the right track. Let me just leave you with this question If equality and elimination of discrimination are the main goals of Title IX, then why is it causing so much lost opportunity and destruction?


1. Bucknell to drop wrestling for Title IX, USA Today, May 001.

. Title IX challenges remain, St. Paul Star Tribune, 11 June 00.

. Brady, Erik, Time fails to lessen Title IX furor, USA Today, 1 June 00.

4. Fitzpatrick, Frank, Wrestler wishes he had known his sports fate, The Philadelphia Inquire, 0 June 00.

5. Goldberg, Jonah, The trouble with Title IX, The Washington Times, 10 May 00.

6. Kinkhabwala, Aditi, Men trying to stop the bleeding from cuts of Title IX, Intermat, http// www.intermatwrestling.com.

7. Shontz, Lori, Wrestling with consequences Courts focus on proportionality, Post- Gazette, 6 October 00.

8. Silver, Zach, Groups look to change Title IX, The Daily Pennsylvanian, 6 November 00.

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