To our surprise we keep reading about schools that are expanding their athletic programs, even in this tight economic times and even as other schools (UVM, UNI, and maybe Hawaii?) are downsizing their athletic offerings. At Mesa State College in Colorado, new men's golf and men's swimming and diving teams will begin competition this fall, and a women's lacrosse team will have its first season in the spring of 2011.
It is great to see schools adding men's sports like golf and swimming, which often get squeezed out in favor of large football rosters (which Mesa State has as well). But I hope Mesa State isn't setting itself up for cuts down the road. It currently offers only 43% of its athletic opportunities to female students, notwithstanding a 56% female student body, and this disparity does not change significantly with the new offerings. That means Mesa State must comply with either prongs two or prong three, either one of which could require it to add a women's team in the future, especially if there is significant interest. Hopefully Mesa State has the money to do this without cutting teams. Otherwise, we all know that the rhetoric will be "Title IX made us do it" and no one will blame or question the decision to add teams to the side already getting disproportionately more opportunities in the first place.
The article also notes that other Division II schools in their region have recently or are currently adding sports. Adams State is adding men’s golf, men’s soccer and women’s swimming and diving next year and men' and women's lacrosse men’s swimming and diving in the fall of 2010. Metropolitan State is adding men’s golf in the 2009-10 season and Fort Lewis College's women's lacrosse will have its first season this spring. Like Mesa State, none of these schools can claim compliance with the proportionality prong.