Thursday, December 19, 2013

Duke adding women's sports

The women's athletic program is having a good run. Women's basketball is currently ranked second in the nation (though that was a disappointing result against UConn the other day).
But the university has decided to put more money and support into women's athletics. The result: the addition of a softball team and scholarships in swimming and diving, fencing, rowing, and track and field. All of these sports will now be offering the maximum number of scholarships.
This move was championed by the Women's Sports Foundation which was strongly encouraging  Duke to come into Title IX compliance.
Inequities in scholarship dollars have been in the Title IX news of late. Colorado State was recently cited for its scholarship disparities. Part of the settlement at Quinnipiac College, approved this past summer, also included stipulations for an increase in scholarships.
Interestingly, the addition of softball in 2018 will bring Duke to 27 varsity sports. That puts them close to the top of the ACC in terms of sports offered. (Numbers vary when considering non-conference sports such as fencing and gymnastics.)
We have seen a lot of schools with such high numbers falter, unable to effectively sustain the quality of the experience across so many teams, especially when the emphasis is on a few revenue-generating sports. But Duke maintains that these revenue dollars are what has enabled them to increase spending on women's sports. Whether that is a sustainable model remains to be seen.