It's never good news when I pull out my calculator and head to the Department of Education's Equity in Athletics Data Analysis Cutting Tool. And this time it's bad news for Catawba College in North Carolina. According to a very brief piece in USA Today, the school has cut women's field hockey--effective immediately. It was the school's oldest women's sport.
It apparently has good reasons. The home team's field is grass which is not as desirable as the turf most other schools are playing on these days. That makes scheduling home games more difficult. Installation of turf would cost an estimated half a million dollars. Also, it appears that field hockey is not very popular in the region. There are not even enough teams in the area to comprise a conference.
Good reasons. But Catawba has a little problem with the numbers. Women comprise just over half of the undergraduate population at the school (52 percent). But they receive only 34 percent of the athletic opportunities. With the cutting of field hockey this percentage drops to 30. It is entirely possible that there are plans to add a women's sport immediately--but that was not mentioned in the articles I saw. It is also possible that the school has been adding women's sports continually and thus has a history of expanding its women's program. But this seems doubtful if women still only receive 30+ percent of the opportunities.
None of the coverage mentions players' reactions. But if they are pissed, which I imagine they are, they might consider calling a lawyer.