Title IX is Always a Factor When Cutting Men’s Programs

As we’ve seen from some of the posts we’ve linked to recently, the use of pretzel-bending logic to justify the misapplication of Title IX in college athletics can be mind-numbing to say the least. Here’s yet another example, this time from West Virginia University student newspaper, The Daily Athenaeum, as it told the story of how the school wrung another $500,000 out of the athletic program by cutting nothing but men’s sports:

Among the list of tasks athletic director Ed Pastilong and staff compiled were placing more of an emphasis on football, building better facilities and making more money – $500,000 more.

To implement these ideas, the department decided to make athletics cuts.

“We could’ve just chopped every team’s budget a little bit and just water-down the entire program, but we looked at all the options and this was the one we came up with,” said associate athletic director Russ Sharp.

As a result, the rifle, men’s tennis, men’s cross country and men’s indoor and outdoor track and field teams were cut from the budget in 2003.

But because 54 of 56 of those athletes were male, the athletic department was criticized for making cuts to meet Title IX requirements.

“We got a lot of flak,” Sharp said. “A lot of people, because they were all men’s sports, pointed to (Title IX). People went there even though it wasn’t the reason.

“The reality of it is, we didn’t do that for Title IX reasons.”

But yet, just a few paragraphs later …

“We recognized at the time that any decision we made … we couldn’t drop three women’s sports,” Sharp said. “We couldn’t make our Title IX position worse.”

In other words, Title IX protected women’s sports from cuts, while making men’s sports completely vulnerable.

And by the way, the rifle team that was cut was the most successful program in NCAA history, nabbing 13 national titles. Ultimately, it took an action by the state legislature to reinstate and fully fund the program. But as our readers know, even when boosters have offered to fully fund men’s sports after they’ve been cut, schools have turned down the money because keeping the team alive would mean running afoul of Title IX’s proportionality prong.

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