Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Florida's Foley: Don't Blame Title IX

This month's issue of Scholastic Coach and Athletic Director features an interview with University of Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley. I was extremely pleased to read his take on Title IX:
[SC&AD]: Depending on who you talk to, Title IX is responsible for cuts in non-revenue sports (like fencing, soccer, and wrestling) or Title IX is being used as an excuse by athletic departments to justify cutting non-revenue sports and reallocating that money to the big ones (football and basketball). There’s no shortage of examples of both sides, but in recent years it seems that it’s more to generate a profit for the athletic department. Rutgers has been cited as an example: cutting the rowing team and some other sports on the heels of a successful football and women’s basketball year. What is your take on this? Is there any validity to this argument?

Foley: I’ve never been a believer that you can blame Title IX on reductions. Maybe financially you can. At the end of the day, Title IX may be a legal obligation but to me it’s a moral obligation. Certain men’s sports don’t make any money either. Certain men’s sports are expensive to run as well. But you have got to have to equal opportunities for women. I don’t know how you have a conversation; look a woman in the eye, look a daughter in the eye, or look a sister in the eye and say, “Well, your sport isn’t as important or you’re not as important.” Obviously it’s a financial conversation because to have equal opportunity costs money. But you still have to have it. If it means that there are some sports that get eliminated on the men’s side, there’s not a lot that protects the men’s sports. There’s a law that says you have to do what’s right by the women. And as I said, to me, that’s a moral obligation. It is what it is. For the longest time you’ve had women’s sports that have been under-funded. You’ve had women’s sports that have not been getting the right priority. You’ve had women’s sports where the facilities are abysmal. You’ve had women’s sports that have been treated as second-class citizens. That’s just not right. So that part has to be fixed. And if it means taking away from another area of your program or your university, that’s what you have to do.
[Thanks, Scott.]