Chelel: Title IX: Keeping the debate fires burning

Dan Warn

Another week, another The Villanovan sports controversy. It was a rare occasion last week when a columnist from the Opinions section butted heads with the good guys in the Sports section. Not to mention the numerous letters to the editors bashing the original column. Kinda makes me feel all warm and tingly inside. But it got me thinking.

Say what you will about the actual content of Ms. Nowak’s article, (which I must admit I didn’t catch but I got the gist of it from the complaints), but that kind of reaction from the Villanova community is almost unheard of. Then I read the little blurb next to Mr. Graziano’s column: “columns are meant to spark debate.” I think my 10 readers, (I got you by one, Marathon Guy) would agree with that sentiment.

Now in my three years on this staff, I think the only letter to the editor I have received was after the first column I ever wrote which bashed college football. Needless to say, it wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement, but the writer was from Tennessee and they do things a little differently down there.

Anyway, it has become somewhat obvious to me that apparently I haven’t “sparked” enough debate, but God knows I have been trying (we don’t want to go into specifics). So in the spirit of the whole student-athlete fiasco, what better time then now to bring up my gripe with good old Title IX.

For those of you out there who are unfamiliar with the topic, Title IX originated as one of the education amendments of 1972. In a nutshell, it banned sexual discrimination in schools in both academics and athletics. This is obviously not a bad thing. Prior to this, schools could discriminate against women as they saw fit. My problem arises in regard to how it is applied to women’s collegiate athletics.

There are three aspects of Title IX’s application to women in sports, but the most notable one is in reference to funding. The total amounts of athletic aid must be substantially proportionate to the ratio of male and female athletes. This is where problems start to arise. This is also where I get confused. When I go to the Villanova athletics website, I see 12 women’s varsity sports and only 10 for the men. Naturally, a sport like field hockey will not have a men’s and women’s team. The extra two sports are essentially volleyball and water polo.

My original interpretation of Title IX was that the number of scholarships and athletic funds given to both men and women were based on the proportion of men to women in the student body respectively. However, I now interpret it as being based on the proportion of male to female athletes. Either way, something must be done to alter this stipulation and Villanova is the perfect example.

The athletes at Villanova who are really getting the short end of the stick are male athletes who are not basketball or football players. Basketball will always have its scholarships because it is the premier sport here on campus. Football will always have its scholarships simply because of the size of the team and its status as the number two sport on campus. It’s the baseball, soccer, golf and men’s swim team members (to name just a few) who lose out big time. These programs don’t have the scholarships they need to compete with the upper-echelon schools in their conferences; hence, they have struggled in the past few years.

Then there were men’s programs like water polo that simply had to be cut. But Villanova is actually fortunate in this regard. There are schools across the country that have had to cut several men’s programs, such as Providence, who cut baseball. Boston University had to cut its football team, for crying out loud. Decisions like these were made from a financial standpoint.

These schools simply couldn’t afford to keep paying for the accommodations necessary in terms of equipment, travel, etc. Why is this? Because the school had to have the necessary scholarships and funding for women’s sports. When it gets to the point where men’s programs are being cut because women’s programs need more money, isn’t there a problem?

In addition, if you go to most schools’ athletics websites, you will see that the vast majority of them have more women’s varsity sports than men’s. This is again because of teams being cut or new women’s teams starting.

Now don’t take this column to mean that I am anti-women’s sports. I think the success that many of the women’s teams here have enjoyed is not only good for the athletic department but the whole school as well. When the women’s cross-country team won the NCAA championship my freshman year, I thought it was great. When the basketball team won their first-round NCAA tournament game against Pepperdine this year, I thought it was great for the school. Women should have an equal playing field, but I’m not sure Title IX is the correct way to go about it. The price of equality should not be to lose established programs.