As I reported last week here on Inkwell, James Madison University recently voted to cut ten sports teams effective July 2007 — the largest Title IX cuts to date.
Title IX has always been an important issue at IWF, and the JMU case is no exception – we are on the case. Today, I have an article over at National Review Online where I examine some of the nuances of the JMU case and propose that Title IX reform might come sooner rather than later. You can read the article here.
For those of you not familiar with the JMU case, allow me to catch you up on the need to know info:
-Seven men’s teams (wrestling, swimming, cross-country, indoor and outdoor track, archery, and gymnastics) and three women’s teams (gymnastics, archery, and fencing) were cut, including eleven coaches and 144 student-athletes.
–Sports Illustrated reports that before the cuts, JMU fielded 15 women’s sports to only 13 men’s sports and a majority of its student-athletes (50.7 percent) were female.
-In response to the JMU cuts, major publications such as Sports Illustrated and the New York Times have criticized Title IX. Such national attention leads many in the Title IX world, including myself, to believe that reform is a real possibility.
-The student body at James Madison University is sixty-one percent female, which made it very hard to meet the proportionality requirement for Title IX compliance. The only solution was to cut sports, showing the weakness of the law.
-Title IX supporters have blamed the JMU cuts on budget concerns. They say Title IX is a “scapegoat” in this case. But, as I point out in my article, JMU Spokesman Andy Perrine confirmed in an interview with Jessica Gavora of the College Sports Council that the cuts were due to Title IX compliance (in a clear nod to proportionality the cuts increase the proportion of female athletes to 61 percent – an exact match of the female undergraduate enrollment at the school). Meanwhile JMU athletic director Jeff Bourne told the New York Times that money was not a factor on the decision. In fact, the ten sports programs in question make up a measly $550,000 in an athletic budget of $21 million.
-Students at JMU are not giving up without a fight. Students have already staged a massive protest and have many more activities planned in the coming months to raise awareness about their situation.
-Finally, as I point out in my article: The challenges facing JMU are not local to Harrisonburg, Virginia. The same issues from increased female enrollment to the constant threat of litigation from radical women’s groups like the Women’s Sports Foundation are relevant across the country. As the New York Times reports, most schools struggle to even meet the 50-50 split in male and female athletic participation rates that James Madison had before the cuts, let alone the 61-39 legal proportionality it reached after the cuts.
Stay tuned for more IWF coverage, podcasts, and events on Title IX in the weeks to come.