One of my favorite blogs is The Sports Economist.  I was happy to see them ask a key question about Title IX today.  Stanford, like many other institutions, is feeling the punch of the economic downturn.  Their athletic department is projecting a $5 million loss in revenue over the next three years and is considering cutting staff and eliminating some sports teams as a result.

Hopefully, for the sake of the Stanford community, the school will be able to rework their budget so that no major program cuts are necessary.  But, assuming they go down that path, Title IX will be a strong consideration in what gets cut (as we’ve mentioned time and time again here on Inkwell — Title IX is always a factor in athletic programming decisions).  So TSE is correct to ask: “Because Title IX essentially puts a cost on men’s teams that is not placed on women’s teams, how will Title IX be used if it comes to cutting teams?”

The answer, unfortunately, is quite clear: they will cut men’s programming.  Most schools struggle enough as it is to meet proportionality’s strict gender quota requirements and simply cannot afford to cut women’s programming.  It’s not surprising when you look at the incentive structure that Title IX enforcement creates. To become proportional most schools face the option of adding women’s programming or cutting men’s programming.  It’s a numbers game that offers schools little flexibility.  So whenever talk turns to cutting programming, Title IX forces a school’s hand — they will inevitably cut men’s programming (and if they do cut a women’s team, they’ll cut several men’s teams along with it to make the numbers balance out).