Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What people are saying: Arizona State

Even as classes wind down and students head back from whence they came [unless you're on the softball team in which case you're headed back to campus to host a Super Regional (congratulations!)], the discussion at Arizona State over the recent athletic department cuts heats up.

The inevitable back and forth has begun. Unlike other institutions (ahem, JMU), ASU is not blaming Title IX for the cuts. As I said a week ago, school administrators have cited budget reasons for the cuts. And in keeping with federal law, ASU cut sports in a way that did not further disadvantage women. And some people see this (though this article cites equity as distribution of scholarships only). But others are talking vaguely about "interpretation." An interpretation that at least one guy thinks has become a "de facto quota system." Well no. ASU does is not in compliance with prong 1--which is what I assume he is referring to with the quota system comment. That means when a school chooses to comply with prong 2 or 3 (we're not sure which ASU cites) it cannot cut a viable women's team because it would result in (prong 2) not expanding the women's program or (prong 3) not meeting the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex.
There is also evident a certain amount of fear about the future as the percentage of women attending college continues to grow. The "predicament of athletic directors...becomes ever more impossible" allegedly.
This sentiment and also this short piece, that initially seems to express support, indicates some problems in people's thinking. Erin's post yesterday about accounting practices addresses one of the issues briefly brought up: cost of adding women's teams. Athletic director Mark Brand noted to a reporter that the addition of women's soccer in 1996 and women's water polo in 2002 brought the department into compliance but "hurt the department economically" according to the article. Anyone want to guess the costs associated with recruiting and keeping an ASU football player versus a female soccer player? Or the costs of their respective facilities?
The commercial mindset (so intertwined with the patriarchal one) results in the idea that it's a "predicament" when women want to actually get their share of the resources of (some of which they pay for through tuition and fees) and benefits from an educational institution.
So when a male wrestler asks if not cutting a women's team is "a Title IX thing"? You can say, yes--it's also known as fairness. Isn't that one of things athletes are allegedly learning through sports--the concept of fair play?