Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Using 2 to get to 1

This article about the new women's swim team at Boise State is a feel-good piece that, while not quite lauding Title IX, does show its impact at the individual level.
Boise State added women's swimming this year to "enhance Boise State's compliance with Title IX." Interesting word choice: enhance. As in, we're going to make our compliance look a little prettier, a little shinier?
According to the article's last paragraph, Boise State is already in compliance with Title IX "under one of three prongs but wants to continue to expand its compliance." Which prong BSU thinks it has achieved compliance under is never stated, though. It is not proportionality. Last year's stats show an over 16 percent gap in their proportionality ratio. Even with the addition of the women's swim team this year that gap is not closing very much given that there are currently only 10 members on the team.
Perhaps they believe they are complying under prong three: interests and abilities. But if they really believed that they wouldn't feel the need to add the swim team; or the planned softball team in 2008, lacrosse in 2012 and an additional yet to be determined sport in 2017.
What they are doing is making an argument--probably to the NCAA first and foremost and then to any potential litigants--that they are complying under prong 2: history and continuous expansion of the women's program. But they weren't even doing that until this year if, as the article states, the last women's team they added was golf in 1993. A decade plus gap between new sports does not constitute continuous expansion.
So it appears BSU will continue on the prong 2 path until it achieves proportionality. It's a slow path, certainly, but one that seems to be fiscally responsible and honor its student athletes. In adding women's programs, it does not appear that BSU will cut any of its men's programs. And for a Division I program that is pretty remarkable.

No comments: