What a No-Win Looks Like

Assuming all of the student-athletes are happy, try to figure out the problem with the following offerings at St. Johns River State College:

2 sports for men: Basketball and baseball. 2 sports for women: Fast-pitch softball and volleyball. Winning teams. Nicer places to practice in recent years. Not to mention generous scholarships.

According to the proportionality option of the three-prong Title IX test, a lot is wrong with this picture. The underlying “problem” is that the school population is 60 percent female. Therefore, having 2 male teams and 2 female teams is not adequate enough to represent the female majority in the overall student population. The school is now pressured into satisfying the proportionality prong by either cutting one of the boys’ teams or adding a girls’ team. Because the budget is small and resources are tight, it’s likely that only one of those options will be realized.

On top of that, the school sets aside more scholarships for female athletes that for male athletes. The Palatka Daily News reports:

“It is not even enough these days that SJR State offers more athletic scholarships to women. It offers the maximum the state allows in each sport – 12 in basketball, 14 in volleyball, 18 in baseball and 24 in softball. That’s 38 for women, 30 for men, for those of you scoring at home. (Again, these are state guidelines set with gender equity in mind. The NJCAA permits as many as 24 baseball scholarships.)”

“It’s not a 50-50 deal,” said Ross Jones, the head baseball coach and athletic director. “The amount of money spent on the sports has got to be reflective of the student population.”

Shouldn’t the sports department budget be reflective of the athletic population? If the school found that all of the students who want to compete are actually playing, why should St. Johns River State College have to restructure and cut opportunities for males? Does the school administration even know if their female students want to play any of the sports they might add?

Details get even dicier when president of St. Johns offers an explanation. According to a different Palatka Daily News article:

“It’s a matter of adding one and allocating the resources we have to five sports or eliminating one and allocating the resources we have to a smaller number of sports,” Pickens said. “But also probably reallocating a portion of that (activity fee) money to other student activities that are non-athletic related.”

How does the last part of his statement make any sense? The school is going to cut spots for males and then give away some of that “saved” money to non-athlete students? Here’s a hard question for St. Johns River State College: Does it really think that this proposed scenario resembles anything close to Title IX compliance?

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