University of Delaware Kills Men’s Indoor Track

Buried in a story about the University of Delaware’s strategic sports plan, we discover that men’s indoor track will be demoted to club status next season in order to comply with Title IX:

But the athletics plan isn’t just about facilities. It also puts forth a competitive charge to strive for better finishes in the Colonial Athletic Association, specifically in the top one-third in every sport. Also, it pledges to “meet or exceed” statistical compliance with Title IX, the gender-equity law.

With that in mind, Delaware plans to add a women’s golf team “at our first opportunity, but I don’t think earlier than two years down the road,” athletic director Edgar Johnson said.

As a result, varsity men’s indoor track and field will be relegated to club status next year in an effort to meet Title IX standards, Johnson said. It has been a varsity sport since the 1966-67 school year, after the Delaware Field House, with what is now a 200-meter track, opened. The CAA does not, however, sponsor an indoor track championship.

There had been concern among many former UD cross country and track and field team members and those who follow those sports that cross country and outdoor track would also be dropped.

“We’ll still have the highest number of varsity sports in the CAA [23], equal to William & Mary,” said Johnson, who added that indoor track athletes may compete in many of the same meets as varsity teams as members of club teams or simply as individuals.

While pleased to have retained his men’s cross country and outdoor track programs, Jim Fischer, who coaches all three, lamented the loss of the varsity indoor program. With the CAA outdoor meet annually held early in the season, in mid-April, the indoor season provided an adequate preparation period.

“Even though the outdoor season is our main focus of track and field, most of the kids build up during the indoor season for the conference meet, which is the highlight of our season,” said Fischer.

While it’s hard not to be relieved that the rest of the men’s track and field team wasn’t cut — which was the fear up until earlier today — it’s disappointing that the only way Delaware saw around complying with the law was by cutting a men’s program.

Disappointing, but all too familiar.

UPDATE: Welcome to readers of Phi Bets Cons and The Inkwell.

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