Sunday, May 20, 2007

Good Article on the Title IX Crisis

The Title IX Crisis: Leadership Needed from Ueberroth and Masback

By James Dunaway

Spring 2007

Yes, you, Peter Ueberroth, and you, Craig Masback.

In the past 30-odd years, the very admirable idea of Title IX has been twisted into a form that threatens the future of the United States' performance in the Olympic Games.

Since the enactment of Title IX in 1972, and the bureaucratic promulgation of "guidelines" which have gradually hardened into fiat law, university after university has dropped participation in a number of men's varsity sports, citing Title IX as the reason.

The worst hits have been taken by men's wrestling and gymnastics. More than 400 collegiate wrestling teams have been discontinued, and according to the NCAA only 17 Division One men's gymnastics programs are still competing. Seventeen!

Track and field and swimming have also been hard hit. Among the men's swimming programs dropped are UCLA and Miami, which between them have produced 27 Olympic medals. The scores of major discontinued men's track programs include Southern Methodist, Bowling Green, West Virginia, Western Michigan--and most recently Ohio University and James Madison.

Since 1896, United States athletes have won a total of 2,089 Olympic medals. More than ha1f, 1,095, have been won by male athletes in just four sports--men's track and field (605 medals), men's gymnastics (58), men's swimming and diving (316), and wrestling (116)--the very sports that have suffered the most from the restructuring of collegiate sports brought about by the current Title IX "rules." If that isn't a crisis for the USOC, what is? Where is the USOC going to be if the four sports that have won 52.4% of all U.S. Olympic medals go out of business?

The James Madison announcement brought a strong reaction from Equity in Athletics, a non-profit organization which seeks to change the rules which universities say is the reason why so many men's programs have been chopped.

Equity in Athletics is doing something about the crisis--suing the U.S. Department of Education to get those rules changed.

I believe that you, Peter Ueberroth, and you, Craig Masback should be doing something, too.

First, you and the leaders of every NGB involved with an Olympic sport must recognize that this is a crisis. Get it off the back burner and start thinking about ways to solve the problem.

Second, USOC and USATF should take an interest in the Equity in Athletics lawsuit. EIA has taken a different legal route from the prior Title IX cases that have failed, and the USOC and all the NGBs ought to have their lawyers study the approach EIA has taken and file strongly supportive amicus curiae briefs.

If you don't do something about Title IX, it sure as hell will do something about you. -- James Dunaway

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