Two Title IX Softball Decisions, Same Office of Civil Rights
Last week, Santa Clara University announced that it had agreed to build an on campus softball field as part of a settlement into a Title IX investigation that had been initiated by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR). When I read the story, I couldn’t help but recall another story we had taken note of in March 2010 when the same OCR came to a much different decision in a very similar case against Point Loma Nazarene University(PLNU).
As many of our readers might recall, the softball team at PLNU faced a similar predicament when the off campus field they had been using for years was no longer available. When the school said there was no room for a field on campus, a former member of the team filed a complaint with OCR.
The result: four teams were eliminated. As per usual when proportionality gets caught in the mix, three men’s teams—golf, track and cross-country—were eliminated. But the real surprise came when the school also announced that it was doing away with softball and replacing it with women’s golf. As one member of the PLNU softball team later told the media, if they knew the choice they had was between playing off campus and not playing at all, they would have continued to play off campus.
What we have here is another one of the untold stories about Title IX enforcement. Simply put, once OCR begins to investigate a complaint, the student athletes involved are completely cut out of the process. The only difference here, is that it is usually male athletes who suffer at the hands of such a profoundly broken enforcement system.