April 19 2007

Tales in Title IX

Allison Kasic

This morning USA Today has an important article on the massive Title IX cuts at James Madison University that we've been covering since September.
 
One of the ten teams cut at JMU was men's track.  This weekend's track meet will be the last of the season for the women's team and the last ever for the men's team.  It's no surprise that the biggest supporters of the men's team have been the women's team -- they train together, compete together, and support each other.  Our rally for Title IX reform outside of the Department of Education in November had strong support from female athletes at JMU. One of the speakers at the rally was Jennifer Chapman, a senior on JMU's track and cross country teams.  Chapman has been one of the leading voices for Title IX reform throughout this ordeal:

"'Times change, and you adapt to those changes. And if more women are going to college than men, and males want to participate in sports, why would we say no? That doesn't make sense.'

"She says her epiphany came Sept. 29 as the men's and women's cross country teams boarded a bus for the ride home from a race in Pennsylvania. An athletics administrator read a prepared statement: Ten teams-- including men's cross country but not women's-- would be gone by summer.

"'The guys' team started crying,' Chapman says. 'Then the girls cried, too. Girls might cry after a race if they don't do well or they're in pain. But we had never seen a boy cry. It hit us really hard.

"'And I thought: "We have to do something. There's no reason guys should feel like this."'"

So, what does someone like Donna Lopiano, CEO of the Women's Sports Foundation, think of Chapman and the rest of the gang that are fighting back against the JMU cuts?  "They've been brainwashed."
 
How dare someone disagree with Lopiano!  Surely she can't think for herself.  She must be brainwashed!  All the athletes must be brainwashed!
 
What a sexist notion -- that all women must think the same on this issue, or any issue.  For a group that claims to represent women in sports, it simply doesn't make sense that Donna Lopiano and the gang at WSF don't understand why female athletes would be vocal supporters of common sense reform in Title IX enforcement that would restore the original spirit of the law and be fair to both sexes.  Instead WSF is content to continue to use Title IX as a weapon against male athletes in the name of "gender equity."
 
But Lopiano isn't just content to call a group of smart and talented students brainwashed, she feels the need to spread disinformation throughout the entire article (take your pick of her many quotes), my favorite of which is this:
 
"The primary motivation" [for the cuts at JMU], she says, "had to be that they wanted to shift money into football and men's basketball."

So many things wrong with that statement.  1) The ten cut teams represent $550,000 in a budget of over 21 million.  Small potatoes.  JMU easily could have raised that money (or made cuts elsewhere) and saved the teams, thus saving themselves a ton of negative attention from national media outlets.  They could have done that if there weren't other pressures on the school to cut the teams, primarily Title IX's proportionality requirement.  Even if JMU had raised the money and kept those teams, they still would have been in violation of Title IX -- so money, in this case, was not a deciding factor. 2) The $550,000 will be reinvested into scholarships in the remaining women's sports.  None will go to football or men's basketball.  Lopiano's response?  "I'll believe it when I see it."

I guess some people just like conspiracy theories.  Check out the article here.

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