Monday, March 05, 2007

Just don't take the money

Finally a rational suggestion about the James Madison University athletic cuts. The cutting of ten teams (JMU previously carried the most varsity teams at the DI level), for anyone not familiar with the story, were announced last September and very much blamed on Title IX rather than the poor budgeting skills of university administrators.
And the decision has been news ever since because of the furor over the cuts, including the hatred of the Virginia state legislature which has threatened to cut some of the university's funding unless the powers that be reconsider.
A Virginia columnist, who apparently goes by the name Poppin, encouraged the legislature--which apparently hates Title IX so much--to just forgo federal funding of JMU, make up the difference themselves, and run as many teams with whatever gender ratio they want.
Oh wait, you don't the money to do that, Virginia? Right, tight budgets are what started this mess in the first place.
Poppin was being facetious of course. Almost no institution in this country can afford to forgo federal funds. And even if JMU was, it would be unlikely that they would be able to have an athletic program that was grossly inequitable. The school itself would lose a lot of credibility. The NCAA, which does monitor gender equity, would not be too pleased. And there is probably some state law that prevents gender discrimination in Virginia that a female athlete could use to bring legal action against the university.
In other words, Title IX is the scapegoat. There are other legal and bureaucratic mechanisms in place that help female athletes, though they arguably are not as effective as Title IX.
Regardless, the Virginia legislature's threats are pretty empty because, in the end, what they are asking the university to do is ignore a federal law, the effects of which would be a costly lawsuit funded in part by....the state of Virginia.

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