Some Common Sense Ideas on Title IX Reform from Beau Dure

Earlier today, the College Sports Council got into another sharp exchange on Twitter that, in the end, might have actually produced something productive. While you can read about the details yourself at Sportsmyriad, a blog run by ex-USA Today reporter Beau Dure, I’d like to focus on some of the ideas that Dure proposed for Title IX reform, ideas that deserve a hearing.

Here’s what Dure proposed:

I can’t claim to have a big solution. But I’m going to suggest a couple of things that should be recognized in the interest of moving forward:

1. Recognize that there are, in fact, single-gender sports. That’s football, and for now, that’s wrestling. Yes, women’s wrestling is in the Olympics, as it should be. But as I learned from @USAWrestling yesterday, it’s not getting the status it needs from the NCAA to be added at most schools. Until that changes, wrestling should get a bit of leeway in athletic department budgets because there’s simply no women’s equivalent.

The CSC has been on board for a while now when it comes to granting emerging sport status to women’s wrestling. As for granting leeway for men’s wrestling, even if the NCAA wanted to give it, gender quota activists would likely fight it in the courts.

One idea that the CSC has proposed before would be for the NCAA to raise the minimum number of teams required to qualify for Division I. Right now, the minimums are six sports for men and eight for women. Just increasing those numbers to seven and nine would save a lot of programs. We recently made a public offer to work together on this with the Women’s Sports Foundation, but we’ve yet to get a response.

2. That said, don’t give football a free pass. If your starting goalkeeper can make do with a partial scholarship, so can your third-string tight end. And quit spending like an NFL team on road trips.

As the CSC has said before, football isn’t the problem, the strict use of quotas to enforce Title IX is the problem. And while football may be expensive, it brings in tons of money too. As we noted last week, Kristi Dosh of Forbes has done the work that shows that virtually all Division I BCS conference schools make money on football.

3. Why not set a minimum standard rather than equity standard? Perhaps a fourth prong of the Title IX test, really a modification of Prongs 2 and 3, could be that any school that funds a certain number of women’s sports to a certain degree has met the test. If you’ve got fully funded women’s basketball, field hockey, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball, do you really have to add women’s-only rowing and equestrian just for equity’s sake? Or cut a men’s program for fear of following Brown as a loser in court?

It’s good to see Dure recognize the damage that strict quotas can cause, and I think this last point is a great idea. However, as I mentioned above, I’m afraid it would be a non-starter with most gender quota supporters. I’d be happy to be proven wrong, but I doubt that’s going to happen. Dure also mentioned that he’s been in contact with a representative of a women’s sports organization. Here’s hoping he mentions some of his ideas to them.

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