From the Archives of Walter Olson
Earlier today, I had a pleasant exchange over Twitter with Walter Olson, the mind behind the brilliant blog, Overlawyered.com. While Walter may be best known for his blog today, he wasn’t always behind the controls there. Such was the case back in 1998 when he wrote a piece for Reason Magazine called, “Title IX from Outer Space.”
[H]ead count, not money, is what’s often really at legal issue. Wrestling is among the least expensive sports to sustain. Princeton refused to accept a $2.3 million alumni gift intended as an endowment to save its 90-year-old men’s wrestling team, just as the University of Southern California did when alumni tried to save its men’s swimming program. Roster cutbacks for “big” men’s sports, a common feminist proposal, aid compliance efforts not so much because they save pots of money–the non-star “walk-ons” dropped are typically already playing without scholarships, travel, or equipment subsidies–but because they keep down the number of male bodies.
There’s a lesson here: fighting back works. While Princeton University did initially turn down the alumni gift to save the wrestling team, supporters of the team, led by the head coach, kept fighting. Eventually, the program won reinstatement.
Who was that coach? It was Eric Pearson, currently the Chairman of the College Sports Council. And who did he work with? He got some critical help from another Princeton alum, Clay McEldowney, a man who is now also a member of the CSC’s board of directors. In many ways, the fight at Princeton was the genesis for the CSC.