Bemidji State University announced widespread budget cuts to academic programs last week in an effort to save ten percent of their overall budget. The school also used the opportunity to adjust their athletic rosters to help with Title IX compliance. As per usual, this involved cutting men’s programs, in this case men’s indoor and outdoor track and field:
When asked during a press conference Thursday afternoon why the men’s track programs were being eliminated, Hanson answered it had little to do with the budget, but more with Title IX compliance (part of the Title IX federal law passed in 1972 that requires gender equity for men and women in every educational program receiving federal funding). Hanson said the decision to cut the team also has to do with the sports BSU is required to maintain as members of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference and the sports BSU is required to maintain to belong to Division II athletics. BSU currently has 15 Division II sports.
“We are working to become compliant with Title IX and we still have a ways to go,” Hanson said. “That ended up restricting other kinds of actions with athletics we couldn’t do because of what the conference wouldn’t allow. We are well out of alignment, as far as Title IX.”
If I were a male athlete at Bemidji, I’d be concerned with the “we still have a ways to go” statement. Given all the other budget cuts, the school likely doesn’t have a lot of cash to throw at new women’s sports. So, if proportionality is a concern, the result could be more cuts to men’s programming. Stay tuned.