Mainstream Press Picks Up on Gender Disparities in College Tennis and Volleyball

In the Summer of 2009, the College Sports Council published an analysis of the NCAA’s own scholarship and participation data that found that in sports where men and women both compete, women get the lion’s share of both scholarships and participation opportunities (click here for the charts and graphs). As CSC Chairman Eric Pearson wrote at the time:

The findings of a first-of-a-kind study of NCAA participation and scholarship data conducted by the College Sports Council (CSC) shows that in NCAA Division I “gender symmetric sports” (teams where both male and female athletes participate), female students are accorded far more opportunities than male students to compete and earn scholarships.

“Because only 119 schools, or less than 12% of all NCAA member institutions, offer the full 85 football scholarships, the NCAA can’t use football to tackle criticism of their discrimination against male athletes in gender symmetric sports,” said CSC Chairman Eric Pearson. “This new study appears to provide prima facie evidence of disparate treatment of male students by the 28% of NCAA Division I schools that don’t sponsor football teams.”

Pearson also noted: “By far, the most difficult athletic scholarship to obtain at the Division I level is in men’s volleyball, where there are 489 high school athletes for every full NCAA scholarship.”

In the wake of that study, the CSC released two additional targeted looks at the data in both Division I tennis and soccer. Now, almost a year later, additional media outlets are taking closer look at the disparities caused by Title IX between male and female athletes in tennis and volleyball.

Last Friday, the Wall Street Journal took note of the surprising strength of men’s tennis in NCAA’s Division III, a curiosity that can credit the unintended effects of Title IX as its cause:

The rise of D-III has much to do with the changing nature and availability of scholarships. The NCAA’s Division I has seen a net loss of 106 wrestling teams, 72 men’s tennis teams and 18 men’s swim teams over the past 20 years. On many teams that remain, scholarships are becoming scarce. As schools rush to comply with Title IX, men’s D-I tennis teams usually only have about four scholarships per team (or fewer) while women’s teams generally have twice as many.

On the same day, the Associated Press took a closer look at men’s volleyball, where the disparities are just as striking as the result of Title IX quota enforcement and punitive NCAA scholarship limits:

Yet the spotlight isn’t quite as bright as it is on women’s volleyball, in which there are far more college teams. It’s in large part an offshoot of Title IX, a federal law that bans sex discrimination in schools and opened academic and sports opportunities for women.

There were 23 Division I schools and 90 schools overall with men’s volleyball programs, according to NCAA data from the 2009-10 academic year, the latest available. That year, there were 319 Division I schools and 1,025 overall with women’s programs.

Scholarship opportunities are more limited for men. In Division I, men’s teams get the equivalent of 4.5 scholarships, which can be divided among more five or more team members if needed.

Division I women’s volleyball is considered a “head count” sport, and each team can award up to 12 full scholarships, but only one per athlete.

Again, as Pearson of the CSC has previously noted, scoring a Division I scholarship for men’s volleyball is the toughest ticket in college athletics. Kudos to both the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press for taking notice of this long-term trend.

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