Friday, February 2, 2007

Another Great Post from a Track Alumni/Coach

From JJ Huddle:

As an alumni of The Graduate School of Ohio University, a former Graduate Assistant for the OU Track & Field Team, a husband of a member of 5 MAC Team Championships for Cross Country/Track & Field at OU, a brother-in-law of a graduate of the Medical School of Ohio University, a son-in-law of an All-Mac football player who played in the Sun Bowl for OU, a good friend and former college teammate of the current Men's and Women's Head Cross Country/Track & Field Coach, and a good friend and co-worker of Coach Elmore Banton - the former Head Coach at Ohio University for twenty-three years and the 1964 NCAA Cross Country National Champion, I have a vested interest in the well-being of the OU Track & Field community.

First, I would like to present to you some valuable information that you need to know, some interesting facts, and some things that need to be done.

On January 25, 2007, Ohio University announced the dissolution of Men�s Track & Field because �Today, Ohio University is committed to compliance Title IX. It is committed to compliance with this federal statute that guarantees equal rights to everyone regardless of gender.� Quite frankly, Ohio University is taking a step backwards in their compliance with Title IX. In 1995, OU adopted a gender equity plan calling for the addition of three women�s sports. Those three sports were added by 1999. However, in 2001, to continue with compliance with Title IX it was determined that a fourth sport needed to be added. That never happened. In fact, on January 25, OU dropped a woman�s sport � Lacrosse. How is that a continuation of their compliance with Title IX? There is a way for OU to be compliant with Title IX without dropping ANY sports. There are alternatives to compliance with the federal statute that do NOT include the dissolution of sports.

According to the Office for Civil Rights, a federal organization under the US Department of Education, there is �nothing in Title IX that requires the cutting or reduction of teams in order to demonstrate compliance with Title IX, and that the elimination of teams is a disfavored practice. It is contrary to the spirit of Title IX for the government to require or encourage an institution to eliminate athletic teams.� Therefore, even the federal government, who mandates compliance with Title IX, emphatically disapproves of the elimination of sports to maintain compliance.

According The Post on January 29, 2007, �Ohio University is the state�s least racially diverse college and offers one of the lowest percentages of financial aid among similar schools in Ohio, according to the Ohio Board of Regents� 2006 Performance Report.� Taking that into account, OU is now going to cut a sport, Men�s Track & Field, that historically has around the second or third highest number of minority athletes. This would clearly further hurt OU�s weak reputation in terms of racial diversity even more. According to the January 25th press conference, OU is firmly committed to the �nearly 100 student-athletes. These individuals are our first concern.� If these athletes were their first concern, the administration should have found a solution that did not cut their sport and directly hurt both compliance with Title IX and their commitment to improving racial diversity. This cut is a clear step back on both fronts.

�Our athletics budget was in the bottom half of the conference,� the Athletic Director said in his January 25 press conference. According to the Office of Postsecondary Education�s website,, OU Athletics has the HIGHEST operating expenses in the MAC � meaning that they have the most money to work with for their athletic programs. The AD also said that the women�s programs were near the bottom of the conference in terms of operating expenses � that�s his fault for budgeting that way. Cutting the three sports will save the department around $685,000. Of that $685,000, over $400,000 of that is from the Women�s Lacrosse Team. Therefore, this cut is hurting the women�s programs even more by taking more money away from them. Before the cuts, the women received 32.7% of the operating expenses. After the cut, the women will receive 31% of the operating expenses. Again, these cuts in the name of gender equity are further hurting the women�s programs and compliance with Title IX. The two men�s sports being cut have the lowest operating expenses per athlete of the men�s sports. Why would you cut the lowest budgeted sports to save money? Football has higher operating expenses than all the women�s sports combined � it is number two in the MAC in terms of football operating expenses. Football has operating expenses of $1,082,469. The women�s operating expenses for ALL women�s sports are $859,298. To take this one step further, the operating expenses Per Participant for Track & Field is about $1000, Football is $10,117, for Men�s Basketball $22,964, and for Men�s Swimming and Diving $2,325.

Considering all of this information, I want to advise you on some things that YOU can personally do to help save your Track & Field team at Ohio University.

1. Get some information and facts together like this. Do some research at some websites like some of the above listed. Put some numbers together and find facts. You need to get this information together to give to the Board of Trustees. This decision IS NOT FINAL! The Board of Trustees does actually have the power to undo this decision. They have the power to assist you in this more than any other group.
2. This needs to be done NOW. You will need even more information than this and it needs to be done quickly before it is too late. Try to keep emotions out of it. Give them information. Give them facts that will make them rethink their decision and to open up dialogue on this issue.
3. The Faculty Senate Meeting is February 12th. Try your best to get the information to each member and ask them to put this decision on the agenda. Find out when the Board of Trustees meets and get this information to them before they meet.
4. Release your information to the news media beyond The Post in Athens. This is powerful information and a powerful story that can help gain support. Go to papers recognized in the state or even nationally.
5. Letters to the President and to the Athletic Director may not be effective. They are prepared for this and are expecting a wave of criticism.
6. Get the members of the Men�s Swimming and Diving and the Women�s Lacrosse Team to join you in your efforts. The Athletic Director said that YOU are their PRIMARY CONCERN. He asked you to SUPPORT EACH OTHER. This decision affects the lives of each and every one of you. You are in this together. Help each other.

Be aware that THERE ARE WAYS TO BE COMPLIANT without cutting sports. This is not a necessary recourse for compliance with Title IX and solving budget issues. It is a CLEAR step back as far as compliance with Title IX and racial diversity is concerned. These are just some of the glaring facts that need to be made known to everyone. It just takes a few of the right people to understand your point of view for a change to be made. Good luck.


Mark McClure
John Carroll University Cross Country/Track & Field Coach

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