Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Oregon cuts wrestling, raises other issues

This one column in the Seattle PI by Ted Miller could provide us blog fodder for a week. Miller articulates his displeasure over University of Oregon cutting men's wrestling but in the process raises a myriad of issues of interest. I bullet-point them below and hope more coverage will be afforded to each so we can follow up.
  • Wrestling is being cut and baseball, which the university cut two decades ago, is being reinstated. Miller notes that it is not because of Title IX because the university is in compliance already. But (and this but needs several of its own bullets) according to data at The Chronicle of Education they are not meeting proportionality: they are off by 14.6. They can't be following prong 2 because the university has cut women's teams: they had 9 in 2002, 7 in 2004, but added 1 a few years ago. They have cut men's teams but the year in which they did so, 2001, they made their proportionality stats worse. Men's opportunities have actually risen despite having fewer teams. Someone in Eugene is not paying attention. How they were able to cut women's teams in 2001 without already being in compliance is baffling. If Oregon is citing compliance with prong three we would really like to know how they're doing it.

  • As I said, Miller does not blame Title IX for this particular situation but he does put the demise of wrestling and Title IX together noting that since 1972 there have been 448 wrestling programs cut. The suggestion is there for the reader to easily find.

  • And even though everyone is claiming Oregon is in compliance, Miller says the university is adding competitive cheerleading "to maintain the appearance of gender equity." (See bullet 1 to find that the appearance is more of an illusion.) As far as we know, Maryland is the only DI school to institute cheerleading in an attempt to gain compliance. OCR generally frowns on this, but it has yet to be formally challenged.

  • Using women to save men: Miller suggests that wrestling did not have to be cut, that creativity was lacking in the athletic department at Oregon. For example, they could have added women's wrestling and given some of the 5,000 high school wrestlers the opportunity to wrestle in college. He notes that other schools are doing this and wholeheartedly supports the idea. I do too, but the way Miller puts it makes these women into puppets of what appears to be an inept athletic department.

  • This brings me to my last bullet about the current AD at Oregon Pat Kilkenny, whom Miller blames for this decision. Kilkenny, according to Miller, does not have an undergraduate degree, no previous experience in athletic administration, and is basically there to keep Nike founder Phil Knight happy. I have no illusions about college athletics as somehow removed from corporate America--but this is ridiculous.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Someone will have to help me understand. On the EADA site maintained by OPE the U of O numbers say students are 53% male while 62% of the athletes are male which should place the university out of compliance no matter what any AD says. Sure there are the other two prongs but they would have to be articulated and supported as affirmative defenses and so far nobody has tried as far as I know.