Softball Team Leads Anti-Title IX Protest; PLNU Men’s Golf Coach Speaks Out on Title IX

On Friday we told you about the situation at Point Loma Nazarene University, a school in San Diego that cut four teams — 3 men’s and one women’s — in order to comply with the strict proportionality prong of Title IX.

Yesterday, about 100 PLNU students, led by the members of the softball team, got together to protest the cuts:

Some carried signs that said “Title IX sucks” and “Save our sports.” Others said federal gender equity regulations “backfired” on them and called it “reverse discrimination” against male sports.”

One interesting new wrinkle: a previous report seemed to suggest that PLNU cut the softball team because they feared the possibility of a Title IX complaint. But now we’re discovering that an actual complaint was filed with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights:

This decision forced the team to find a place to play off campus, creating an arguably inequitable situation compared to the male baseball team, which plays at a different field on campus. Because of the disparity in baseball and softball facilities, students and officials said a complaint was filed with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), which enforces Title IX.

Players said they don’t know who filed the complaint, whose apparent intent was to spur better equality for the softball program. After receiving it, the OCR instead helped the university reach its decision to eliminate programs. “It backfired,” the players said. An OCR official said he couldn’t discuss any cases. The softball team is 10-0 this year and has been a national power in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

“We’d rather play in unfair circumstances than have the team completely done away with,” one of the softball players said.

Apparently, the Office of Civil Rights disagrees, and it’s unfortunate that it isn’t required to demonstrate any transparency into its deliberations with PLNU officials. At bottom, everyone knows what’s going on, unless of course if you’re a coach or a student athlete.

In a separate interview, the coach of PLNU’s soon to be eliminated men’s golf team, Ben Foster, spoke out about the situation:

Foster is angered by what he sees as the failure of Title IX, the 1972 law that sought to assure that no person is excluded from participation in an educational program receiving federal assistance. The law didn’t specify athletics, but it often has been used as a benchmark in college and high school sports.

“Title IX was a wonderful piece of legislation in terms of intent,” Foster said. “But as is the case with so many laws, it’s nearly impossible to manage it to accurately reflect its intent. As a result, it has been destructive to many, many programs throughout the country.”

Look no further, Foster said, than PLNU proposing to replace a top-notch men’s golf program with an upstart women’s team in the same sport.

“There can be no greater statement in terms of how ridiculous it is,” he said. “Title IX should be about inclusion, not exclusion.”

Bravo. Here’s hoping the administrators at PLNU are listening.

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