They Can’t Blame Football

Mount St. Mary’s University is the latest school to announce Title IX cuts, dropping men’s soccer and men’s and women’s golf. The university administrators offered the usual explanation — financial constraints — and threw in the typical caveat about their long-term commitment to Title IX (“something we take very seriously and keeps us within our target”).

But we know one thing is certain in this situation, which the lay reader looking at the press announcement would find unclear: 36 athletes will no longer have opportunities to play at Mount St. Mary’s precisely because of Title IX regulations, not because the law is protecting them and preventing sex discrimination on campus. Proportionality holds that the percentage of male and female students must mirror the breakdown of male and female athletes — hence, the “target” mentioned above. If schools don’t institute equal numbers, they will inevitably face threats of or actual lawsuits and public shaming on behalf of activist groups. And that’s exactly the backstory unfolding at Mount St. Mary’s.

How do we know? The Department of Education’s Equity in Athletics Data Analysis (EADA) Cutting Tool, which is the best way to see if a reliance on numbers is to blame:

Number of Full-time Undergraduates: 1,510; Men: 669, Women: 841

Gender Ratio of Students: Female: 55.7%, Male: 44.3%

Total Participants Men’s and Women’s Teams: Male: 170, Female: 141

Total Athletes: 311

Gender Ratio of Athletes: Female: 45.3%, 54.7%

Now, taking into account the 36 cuts (Men’s soccer: 20; Men’s golf: 9; Women’s golf: 7), Mount St. Mary’s is left with:

Total Athletes: 275

Gender Ratio of Athletes: Female: 48.7%; Male: 51.3%

Although the school is closer to hitting that desired ratio, it didn’t do it perfectly. So, instead of cutting other teams, it is quite likely that the school will place roster caps on the men’s lacrosse team (50 athletes), baseball (32 athletes) and men’s track (33).

While activists are cheering that Mount St. Mary’s is closer to achieving Title IX equality, the reality is that its moving further away from the intent of Title IX — providing opportunities without regard to gender — and negatively impacting the college careers of many young people . Not to mention that the elimination of men’s soccer will only widen the gap between men’s and women’s Division I soccer teams, as we examined in a study we conducted as the College Sports Council.

Some people will try to blame the usual scapegoat — football — but they won’t be able to get away with it; Mount St. Mary’s has no football team. Perhaps as more schools without football cut sports, people will finally realize that it has nothing to do with reallocating budget and everything to do with redistributing athletic spots for  just one gender.

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