Define Equity, Title IX

Submitted by Brian on April 26th, 2011 at 12:41 PM

Today the New York Times launched a broadside at the widespread practice of futzing your participation numbers to make it look like your school meets the "proportionality" requirement demanded by Title IX. This trick in particular is bizarre:

At Cornell, only when the 34 fencers on the women’s team take off their protective masks at practice does it become clear that 15 of them are men. Texas A&M and Duke are among the elite women’s basketball teams that also take advantage of a federal loophole that allows them to report male practice players as female participants.

The federal government doesn't actually care what your gender is as long as you don't play.

To me, that absurdity demonstrates how futile Title IX is. There is more interest in men's sports to the point where you can't even fill out your rosters with women because no one is interested, so dudes step in to fence. Those guys can't play varsity (Cornell has a club team) because of Title IX.

The Times article and the reaction to it is totally opposed to this view. Triple counting track athletes and jamming tennis walk-ons for whom practice is optional is portrayed as scandalous. The very headline of the article establishes an editorial viewpoint:

College Teams, Relying on Deception, Undermine Gender Equity

Football comes in for its usual hit here:

Yet football, the pride of many universities and a draw for alumni, rarely faces cuts. The average Division I football team went from 95 players 30 years ago to 111 players in 2009-10.

“Football is the elephant in the whole thing,” Mr. Crouthamel said. “That’s the monster.”

This is obviously stupid. The Average Division I Football Team added a dozen or so walk-ons over the past 30 years. Walk-ons don't travel with the team. They don't get financial support. They just show up and fail to kick balls through the uprights. These days they don't even have an equipment cost—many schools have deals where they get that stuff for free. Meanwhile, many places the monster hands out free candy.

If we're talking about "equity" as treating different groups fairly, the thing that's undermining gender equity is Title IX. The article hits a bunch of different schools for practices like the bizarre loophole above but focuses most heavily on South Florida. The Bulls have 71 women's cross-country runners, many of whom are not aware they are on the team. The practice started shortly after USF started a football team, because football is a monster.

Football is a monster!

South Florida

Men's Basketball
Women's Basketball
Non Program Specific
Expense to Revenue Difference

Description of Expense Fields

Football… uh… essentially breaks even. Since basketball gets 100k in "direct university support" this makes it unique amongst USF sports. Women's basketball, meanwhile, gets 232k in direct support—those thirteen scholarships cost the school over a million dollars. Football's 85 cost the university 1,000 bucks each. USF could have 12.3 football teams for what it costs to run one small women's team.

In terms of money thrown at sports that don't have a prayer of ever making a dime, USF's women are killing the men. Football and men's basketball  could break even with small tweaks. The attention they get is a major way to let people know the University of South Florida exists. The reason USF sponsors those sports is because they are a net positive.

But Title IX pretends that money sent to them is like money sent to baseball/swimming/track/cross-country—essentially burned. It's not. There is a ROI in football. It's absurd to force a university to maintain proportional representation as if football is some sort of charity. Many places it's not: it's an investment. A law that isn't insane would recognize that.



April 27th, 2011 at 2:06 PM ^

I played for UM's rugby team and it seemed most the people there were more concerned with getting drunk and acting foolish than anything else.

If M Rugby has descended to the depths of what ND and MSU were back in the day, mere partiers, then Bollinger should receive due credit for his scuttling of the mens program.  Yes, we were consistently ranked #2 after perennial collegiate rugby leader Cal Berkeley.  we were serious about winning titles for the University then and had the male athletes to get there.  Rugby is a cheap sport to fund in any event - scrum sleds, balls, video and travel are about it apart from uniforms, which are cheap relative to football, lacrosse, hockey etc.   Al

Also, worldwide the culture of the union game requires that you drink and sing filthy songs with your opponents after play has ended.  We held our own there, too.


April 27th, 2011 at 1:54 AM ^

Title IX effectively sponsors a slave labor system where teams of primarily black male football and basketball athletes subsidize comparitively less athletic primarily white men and women playing olympic sports.  And for all their trouble, the football and basketball players graduate at pathetic rates compared to other athletes.  It's a sad state of affairs.


April 27th, 2011 at 2:56 AM ^

If it wasn't for football, I might have gone to Northwestern, or U Chicago, or Yale, or Harvard. Athletics (men) adds to the student experience in ways almost nothing else can. it brings more people in contact with schools than anything the school can do recruiting high schoolers. It should be considered as the brand-builder it is. Michigan's academic departments are not forced to adhere to the same standards. It might be nice for Brian and you other engineers, but imagine if one of the engineering departments was cut to equalize the girls who are in IOE. (sorry if I offended you...). It would be ridiculous.