Cracking the Title IX Code at the University of Delaware

Back in late 2008, rumors were swirling at the University of Delaware that most of the men’s track and field program was under threat thanks to Title IX concerns. In the end, only the men’s indoor track team was demoted to club status, but it’s clear that the experience had an impact on Emily Nassi, Managing Sports Editor of The Review, the student newspaper at the school.

Yesterday in an editorial in the paper, Nassi argued that after nearly 40 years on the books, Title IX has failed:

The fact that any teams had to be slashed from varsity status is sad in itself. But beyond this lies a different problem. The disparity in the amount of men’s teams that are cut compared to women’s is astounding, thanks to a law known as Title IX.


It all sounds good and fair, but Title IX does not take into account one very important thing—football. The roster size and operating costs of football teams are so large, it is next to impossible for schools to have the same amount of women’s and men’s sports teams and be in compliance. Even the largest women’s rosters only make up a portion of the roster of a football team. For example, at Delaware, the football team has 104 members listed on its roster at The women’s track team, which currently has the largest women’s roster, had 59 members in the 2010 outdoor season—nearly half of what the football team has.

And thus, when cuts occur, the amount of men’s teams that are mixed is usually higher in order to keep in compliance. For example, at UC Davis, the school cut the women’s rowing team, which had a 73-person roster. The Aggies then axed three men’s teams, a total of 80 athletes, in order to keep receiving that federal money. The school now has 14 women’s teams, and nine men’s teams, which more than likely represents the proportion of students at the university.

This trend isn’t new. It’s been happening for years, even before the recession became as deep as it is now. In 2006, Rutgers cut five men’s sports and one women’s team. James Madison in 2007 took the axe to seven men’s teams and three women’s. Kutztown cut two men’s teams in 2009. Delaware cut men’s indoor track and field last year. The list goes on.

The word is getting out. Thanks to Emily for noticing what’s really happening.

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