On the show last night, Stossel mentioned a few recent cases of men’s teams that have been cut due to Title IX compliance. We never really got to talking about larger trends on the show, and that’s a shame because the cuts to men’s programs that Stossel pointed out (and that I occasionally point out here on Inkwell) aren’t anomalies. They are part of a larger pattern. Witness this 2007 longitudinal study by our friends over at the College Sports Council. The numbers are clear: over a 25 year period there has been a 6 percent decline in men’s participation and a 17 percent decline in the number of men’s teams. In that same period, both women’s roster spots and teams increased 34 percent. As I mentioned on the show last night, the total number of women’s teams surpassed the total number of men’s teams in 1995. You’ll find all that and more here, along with data on individual sports.
Also, a quick note to anyone new to this issue: Title IX isn’t necessarily the primary factor every time a school cuts a team. Often times it is, but sometimes budget concerns are the primary factor. The important thing to remember though is that Title IX is always a factor in programming decisions. Imagine a school that is in really bad shape financially. They decide that the best course of action is to cut back on programming, athletic and otherwise. Title IX will play a large role in what they cut. Men’s teams will bear the brunt of any cuts because if a school is not proportional and eliminates a women’s team they will most likely face a lawsuit. And history suggests that they will lose that lawsuit. So, in effect, Title IX limits the choice set that the school has to work with. Of course, a lot of times a Title IX complaint is the primary factor, as witnessed by the countless programs that get cut even though (like Cal’s rugby team) they pay for themselves.