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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Universities reconsider the benefits of Title IX

The recent popularity of women’s sports, with the women’s World Cup soccer team and the WNBA, validated the effectiveness of Title IX, according to athletic officials.

Title IX, a set of federal guidelines intended to prohibit discrimination against women in federally funded programs, has sometimes come at the expense of men’s athletic programs.

I’ve been the head coach of women’s basketball here at GW for 11 years, said Joe McKeown, head coach of the GW women’s basketball team. And, believe me, the number of women participating in sports has grown immensely, and I think Title IX has definitely been the cause of some of that.

Athletes and coaches credit Title IX for the increased number of female collegiate athletes and for narrowing the gap in funding to male and female athletic departments.

As a result of the 1972 legislation, women athletes have benefited from increased scholarships and more equitable facilities, according to an Oct. 25 article in The Washington Post.

Since 1991-1992, athletic scholarships given to women at major colleges across the country increased by 140 percent, more than twice the rate of increase in aid for men during the same period, according to a gender equity report released by the NCAA.

According to the study, 59 percent of Division I scholarship money was given to male athletes in 1997-98, down from 63 percent in 1996-97.

Though Title IX helped bring about gender equity in collegiate athletics, many Division I universities have dropped men’s varsity programs to allocate money to women’s sports.

A group of male athletes at the University of Miami, Ohio, filed a lawsuit against the University last week after the school dropped several male athletic programs. The group is suing because the university’s actions violate sex discrimination regulations in Title IX, according to an article in The Washington Post.

Wrestling programs took the brunt of the Title IX fallout. More than 40 Division I and II colleges dropped wrestling programs in the past two years, according to a Sports Illustrated report.

Baseball and football programs at high-profile universities also were affected. Boston University dropped its baseball and football teams in 1997, and Providence College dropped its perennially ranked baseball team last year.

Some athletes say Title IX strengthened female athletic programs but needs improvement to ensure men’s programs are not lost.

Clearly, dropping men’s sports is definitely not the way to go about raising the amount of money given to women’s sports, said senior Frank Cerullo, a former Seton Hall University baseball player and now a member of GW’s baseball team. Athletes often have to transfer because their school doesn’t have their sport any more. I think Title IX needs to be revisited, for when it starts to take away people’s privileges to play sports, that’s when it becomes a problem.

Coach McKeown disagreed.

In fact, a lot of colleges have added men’s sports, such as golf and tennis, and I definitely don’t think you can make a case that because of women’s sports certain universities don’t have certain men’s sports.

Title IX is not the cause of concern for male athletes at universities that cut their sports, said Mary Jo Warner, GW’s senior associate director of Athletics.

That’s a grand excuse, Warner said. Women’s sports have long been scapegoated as the cause for dropping various men’s sports. But in actuality, men’s sports have been receiving more money than women’s; so it’s really individual schools making their own financial decisions, not Title IX.

Universities around the country continue to allocate the majority of athletic funding to male football programs.

Male athletes received an average of $1,320,688 in athletic scholarships at a college, but the majority of that money – an average of $939,606 – went to football programs, according The Post.

GW makes a strong effort to improve already equitable distribution of funds to both men’s and women’s athletic programs, Warner said.

GW has a very strong record when it comes to gender equity issues, and we are continually striving to improve on that record, she said.

Nevertheless, some female athletes said a lack of interest in women’s sports have undercut the positive effects of increased spending in female athletic programs.

I think Title IX has generally been successful, in the fact that it has allocated more funds toward women’s sports on the collegiate level, said junior Sarah McCllelan, a crew team member. However, I’m not sure it’s exactly what women’s sports needed. What’s lacking in women’s sports is support by other athletes and students – just look at the men’s and women’s basketball games and the number of people who show up to each.

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