Saturday, April 06, 2013

Boston University drops wrestling as varsity sport

After the of 2013-14 season, Boston University will no longer support a varsity wrestling team. Wrestling has been a varsity sport at the university for just under 50 years. Officials within the athletics department said that the decision was made for several reasons including BU's imminent conference move to the Patriot League which does not have wrestling and the team's mediocre performance in the past decade+. To remedy the latter, a lot more money would have to be put into the program including into facilities, something the department says is not feasible. They immediately ruled out the possibility of fundraising as a possibility to save the team. It seems the decision has been made.
The good news is that the articles I have read have not invoked Title IX as a "the law made me do it" excuse. And BU eliminated football in the late 1990s so we know they aren't shuffling the money over to that program.
But that hasn't stopped critics from participating in the Title IX blame game. A quick look at Twitter:
Some named Justin S tweeted "Wrestling programs get cut so girls can take lots of cute uniform pics in the lockerroom before games" with the TitleIX hashtag. This was right after he tweeted that "football and wrestling have literally destroyed my body." Hmm...
Jason Bryant, a sportswriter in Minnesota, tweeted that that was another case of Title IX forcing a school to cut a sport and that it was the addition of men's lacrosse that forced the school to cut wrestling--because it couldn't keep both.
Well it certainly has a numbers problem. Men comprise, as of the 2012 EADA reporting, just a smidge under 40 percent of the undergraduate population. The same data show that there is a 7.7 percent disparity between the percentage of female undergraduates and the percentage of female student-athletes. That is equivalent to 52 opportunities. So they have to keep the number of male student-athletes in check or add a woman's sport--or increase the number of men in their undergraduate population. Adding men's lacrosse made the school vulnerable. If a woman's club team, for example, came forward and asked for elevation to varsity status the school might have trouble denying them that opportunity given that their numbers are off and that the last women's team they added was in 2005.
If BU had all the money in the world, maybe wrestling would have been retained and two more women's sports added. But maybe they are simply trying to maintain a highly successful athletics program in which all their sports are regionally popular and given what they need to succeed.