Fighting the Title IX Echo Chamber and the New York Times

We’re just about 36 hours past the publish time on Katie Thomas’s horribly unbalanced piece on roster management and Title IX. The good news is that there are more than a few people who aren’t buying her take on gender equity.

First, we ought to check in with Wendy Parker, whose take on the piece ought to be required reading for any Journalism 101 class:

What Thomas didn’t do was examine the premise of the first test of Title IX compliance, known as proportionality, which has had the de facto force of the law since the mid-1990s and which has had athletics directors scrambling ever since. It’s also been the biggest bone of contention by forces advocating on behalf of male athletes who’ve lost their teams when schools make cuts for gender equity purposes.

Neither did Thomas address the subject of interest, which women’s sports advocates loathe and which has become something of a third rail not to touch. The party line is that women are just as interested in men in participating in sports, but they’ve been unfairly held back. That might have been true in the past, but the examples shown in Thomas’ reporting illustrate a desperate attempt by colleges to play Title IX’s numbers game any way they can. If they had been able to find an ample supply of interested female athletes to fill roster sports, isn’t it fair to assume they would have done that? Especially with the constant threats of lawsuits hanging over their heads?

These are questions that beg for answers, but they were not asked here.

But there’s more …

But the 3-part test for Title IX sports compliance is broken, and needs to be fixed. We need a new set of regulations to reflect the status of female college athletes today, and not in the late 1970s, when the test was formulated and when I was in college. It is a very different world now, and a much better one.

One other major point in yesterday’s article was one we’ve heard for years from gender quota advocates, and it’s the belief that the real problem with Title IX enforcement is college football and all of the resources that it eats up. Here’s Ty Duffy from The Big Lead:

One sport targeted in the article is football. South Florida added a large number of male athletes for football. America’s big bastion of masculinity is portrayed, uncritically, as an “elephant” and a “monster.” The article’s implication is football hogs a vast majority of university attention and resources. That is false.

Major conference football programs made an average $15.8 million profit in 2010. The average women’s basketball team in a major conference loses $2 million per year. The average university makes $186,000 for each of its 85 scholarship football players. The average university loses $159,000 for each of its 13 scholarship women’s basketball players. Which sport uses a disproportionate amount of resources? Schools don’t “cut” football because it would prevent them paying for other sports.

South Florida threw off its proportional representation by adding football. But, adding football moved men’s and women’s sports to Division I and then to major conference play in the Big East. Presumably, the increased exposure of the football and men’s basketball programs will make them profitable as an alumni fan network grows. This will allow them to pay for themselves entirely while subsidizing non-revenue men’s and women’s sports. Should South Florida cease the “fraud” and drop football or add other sports it can’t afford to even the numbers?

I know for sure that this won’t be the end of the debate on this piece. Please follow us on Twitter (@collegesportsco), where we’ll be taking the fight to the opposition. More later.

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