Earlier this semester, I reported about the cuts to men’s track and field and cross country at the University of Delaware. Now I’d like to point you’re attention to an interesting interview on WDEL about the cuts. The interview is up in two parts (one and two) and features many athletes, parents, and former runners at Delaware. Tom Rogers, in particular, does a great job about explaining the history of Title IX and the situation that Delaware found itself in. I also found the discussion of how the school handles the cuts to be illuminating. In short, the players and coaches were blindsided, and were even told two years ago by the school that this would not happen. Unfortunately, this is par for the course for these types of cuts, which often are decided behind closed doors with little input from athletes or coaches and sprung on athletes in the spring semester, leaving them little time to transfer out should they wish to do so. The folks in this interview want clear answers from the school and I can’t blame them. It sounds like the school has been pretty silent as to their reasoning, other than a few initial statements to the press.
I don’t endorse everything in the interview, particularly the shots at women’s golf (my sport) and women’s wrestling (a sport on the rise, no thanks to the NCAA). A lot of the discussion in the interview is also focused on what (or who) is to blame for the cuts — namely whether it’s Title IX or money or something else. If my sport got cut, I’d be angry and looking for something or someone to blame, so I certainly don’t fault anyone involved for thinking along those lines. I’ll simply point out that it doesn’t have to be just one of the things in that list. Title IX constrains the choice set that a university has. Sometimes a school is so far out of compliance it makes moves towards compliance. Other times schools have budget concerns and Title IX will help shape the decision of what the school chooses to cut. Sometimes it looks like there is no active Title IX complaint on campus then months or years later we find out that there was a women’s club team petitioning for varsity status or some other spark that launched the program changes. Since, as I mentioned above, these decisions tend to happen behind closed doors, it can be hard to figure out exactly what the school’s motivation might be. But regardless of that motivation, the outcomes are rarely different. And you can thank Title IX for that.