It’s More Than Just a Sprint To Save Sports

A recent article in Delaware’s News Journal attempts to show how Patrick T. Harker, president of the University of Delaware (UD), is making budget and administrative decisions that are drawing both positive and negative attention. Unfortunately, because of the rationale Harker used to put certain programs on the chopping block, some members in the UD community are more affected than others.

Especially the men’s track and cross country teams. Teams, that according to a columnist at UD’s student newspaper, the Review, who cited the U.S. Department of Education, cost $775/athlete for cross country (18 athletes) and $751/athlete (48 athletes). That is nothing compared to other varisty sports. Teams that boosted the second and third highest overall GPAs among UD athletic teams (track with a 2.950 GPA; cross country with a 3.029 GPA).

These boys, obviously fed up with the administration’s nonsense, have taken serious action to save their sport and continue to make their college experience worthwhile. In their formal complaint with the Office of Civil Rights, they shed light on exactly the problem with using Title IX as a means to eliminate, rather than create opportunities. In this case, many speculate that the law supposed to ensure gender equality is used as a scapegoat to save funds. Either way, the boys write:

The University of Delaware chose to use an outside counsel for the decision made by its Board of Trustees and Administration to cut our sports programs and avoid working with the Office for Civil Rights or community stakeholders – most notably those directly affected by the decision.

Only the first prong of compliance to Title IX was evidenced in meetings with student athletes, press releases and community meetings to explain the decision. The second and third prong of Title IX which encourages accommodation and expansion of programs and not elimination of programs – were rebuffed and dismissed in question and answer sessions. No logical or reasonable arguments have been delivered to us, the student athletes directly affected by the decision – but offers to help us transfer and leave UD remain.

We believe that the University should have looked at alternative and creative solutions to remain in compliance with Title IX instead of eliminating two men’s programs. As student athletes involved with cross country and track & field, and excluded from this decision, we have looked at clarification of Title IX law, work done by the Office for Civil Rights, case law and alternative solutions provided by other “flagship” universities and found that the University of Delaware has not followed the spirit or letter of Title IX.

[W]e, the student athletes make this complaint to work and have the opportunity to save our sports.

Thankfully, and rightfully, the Office of Civil Rights is looking into the complaint to determine gender discrimination. We are looking forward to seeing the outcome of this case, and hope that the hard work and current campaign run by the UD track and cross country boys will pay off.

To learn more about how they’re working to save their sports, please visit their website, Save UD.

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