Which Is It: Budget or Title IX?

In yet another instance in which a school cuts sports because of budget — and oh, wait, also because of Title IX — Millersville University announced last week that it is dropping men’s cross country and men’s indoor and outdoor track and field teams. 30 boys and one coach will be cut as a result.

According to the University, “In addition to financial impact, the decision also factored each sport’s history of competitive success, moving closer to compliance with Title IX and the principles of gender equity as well as improving Millersville athletics’ competitive standing.”

Millerville University’s press release is confusing because it cites budget reasons, but then later admits that gender quotas definitely factored into its decision. If only financials were considered, the school would not have repeatedly emphasized that 30 male athletes were cut.

The press release also includes an FAQ section:

2. How did Title IX factor into the decision?

With approximately 10 student-athletes participating in cross country, indoor track and field and outdoor track and field and approximately 20 competing in indoor track and field and outdoor track and field, the elimination of the three teams accounts for more than 70 participant opportunities, which increases the ratio of female to male student-athletes and more accurately reflects Millersville University’s student-body.”

Rightly so, the affected students and alumni protested the decision. As Jim Boyer, 2011 alumnus, expressly describes in a letter to the local CBS affiliate in Pennsylvania:

“In the last decade just in this region of the country alone, James Madison University, West Virginia University, Towson University, Clarion University of Pennsylvania, the University of Delaware, and the University of Maryland have all cut their men’s cross country and track and field programs that competed at the Division I and II level and produced an abundance of coaches, and professional and world class athletes.

” Institutions like these have distorted Title IX legislation (demanding equality for women in sports) to pretend that they have quickly fixed budget issues of their athletic departments. Men’s programs such as cross country and track and field are some of the least expensive sports to fund because they use the same coaches and travel mechanisms as the women’s programs.

“Men’s cross country and track programs have become easy targets because a distance runner can count as three athletes since they participate in three sports: cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track. Title IX cannot restrict schools from cutting men’s programs but is strongly opposed to it, yet it has become an epidemic that is destroying opportunities for thousands of collegiate athletes and laying ruin to the sport.”

Predictably, their outcry was not enough for the school; Millersville University followed up with those students and informed them that the 3 teams would not be reinstated.

Millersville University, along with all of the other universities that have sent out similar releases and/or were not as upfront about reasons — Title IX enforcement, proportionality, gender quotas, “future” Title IX considerations — owe it to their students to frankly explain what’s really going on. Disproportionately male cuts in cheap sports that have a history of success and dedicated athletes deserve a real explanation.

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