Revisiting Title IX and HBCUs

Many of our readers will recall that back in 2008, the College Sports Council published a study concerning the ongoing Title IX threat to America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities or HBCUs. That CSC study found:

  • 73% of the nation’s 75 HBCUs that are co-educational and have athletic programs were out of compliance with the strict proportionality standard;
  • 30 of the schools out of compliance would have received an “F” from the Women’s Sports Foundation in their latest report card on gender equity in college athletics;
  • 43 schools, though they didn’t get an “F”, are still vulnerable to lengthy and expensive litigation;
  • Only 2 schools (Allen University, Morris College) were in compliance.

So why is this important? Here’s CSC Chairman Eric Pearson:

“The purpose of this study is to show that schools like the HBCUs that want to attract more male students run into a virtual roadblock when it comes to complying with Title IX s proportionality standard,” said Eric Pearson, Chairman of the CSC. “The CSC calls on the NCAA to support HBCUs use of surveys to comply with Title IX. HBCUs need the flexibility that surveys offer, if they want to use sports to increase male enrollment,” Pearson said.

That sentiment was echoed by Wade Hughes, the former men’s wrestling coach at Howard University, in a piece that ran at The Root a few weeks later:

The impact of Title IX’s proportionality standard has been disastrous, because at many colleges, far more males than females are seeking to take part in athletics. Schools have been left with no choice but to eliminate men’s teams, and place limits on the numbers of male students on the programs that remain. Adding a team for male athletes is out of the question when a school is out of compliance with Title IX. For the student-athletes, the unintended consequences of Title IX enforcement have been devastating.

They have devoted young lifetimes to their sport, only to have their opportunity to compete diminish. Despite efforts to comply that include both eliminating men’s teams and adding women’s teams, the majority of our HBCUs still aren’t in compliance with Title IX’s strict proportionality test more than 35 years after the law’s passage.

So why bring this up again now? Just a few days ago, Delaware State, one of the HBCUs we identified in our study as already being out of compliance with Title IX and under risk from legal action by radical activists, was forced to cut men’s tennis and women’s equestrian due to budget pressures. Over at the HBCU Sports Blog, that’s set off a serious debate about the law and its consequences for schools like Delaware State.

To repeat, the CSC is never happy to see teams eliminated. For the most part, however, ever since the start of this current economic contraction, men’s teams are the only ones who have really had to worry about losing the opportunity to compete because of budget cuts. As we’ve said before, the only option that makes sense is to give all colleges and universities the room to comply with Title IX by using surveys to prove that they’re meeting the athletic interests of actual students and not college administrators.

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