Temple to cut 7 teams

Temple University Cites Title IX in Decision to Drop Seven Sports Teams

The alarming trend of gutting university athletic programs in order to comply with Title IX’s rigid gender quotas has claimed more victims. The latest casualties come from Temple University in Philadelphia. Yesterday, the school announced that it was canceling seven sports, including baseball, softball, rowing and track and field. As elsewhere, the cuts disproportionately fell on male athletes, with men’s teams accounting for five of the seven teams to be eliminated. Altogether, 180 athletes will lose their opportunity to compete beginning with the Fall 2014 academic year.

Here’s what the school told the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Kevin G. Clark, vice president and director of athletics, said. “But at the end of the day, it’s the right thing to do to give the remaining sports the ability to compete at the highest level.”

[…]

The university chose to spare women’s gymnastics and more women’s sports in general in part because of Title IX, a federal regulation which requires equal participation, athletic scholarships, and support for male and female athletes. Temple has been out of compliance for years. It has three percent more male athletes than female but 58 percent of its scholarship money goes to men. Temple’s student body is 51 percent female.

“With these changes, we will be in compliance with Title IX,” Clark said.

Title IX compliance is always a factor in the decision-making process in college athletics. Current regulations incentivize administrators to eliminate teams and male athletes always shoulder the lion’s share of the cuts, both in terms of teams and total number of athletes.

Over and above the negative impact of Title IX, this decision also represents another pernicious trend: the untethering of intercollegiate athletics from its historic educational mission.* Too many college administrators are abandoning the principle that schools should sponsor varsity teams for their educational benefit to student-athletes. Instead, administrators seem more concerned with how winning teams can burnish a school’s image and advance their own careers.

While no athlete worth their salt likes to lose, the educational value of athletic competition is not enjoyed solely by competitors who step to the top of the podium. Athletics offers the opportunity to develop traits such as teamwork, perseverance, and a capacity to balance priorities in life — benefits that can accrue to anyone who trains and competes. And in many cases, it can be argued that those lessons are taken to heart most by athletes who continue to strive even when they have slim chances of achieving victory. In college athletics not just the winners win. It’s unfortunate that fewer student athletes will get to learn that lesson at Temple beginning next Fall.

*Just as the current regulations that govern Title IX compliance have become untethered from its mission as stated in the language of the law, and now permit discrimination on the basis of gender.

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