In a written ruling a U.S. District Court Judge has ruled that the University of Cincinnati did not violate the gender equity requirements under Title IX by eliminating the University’s women’s crew team.
The rowing team which was made a varsity sport by the university in 2000 in part to meet Title IX requirements accused the university of shortchanging the team on equipment, training facilities and coaches and said that they had received less support than comparable men’s teams had.
At that time the university had drawn up plans to build a $3 million dollar boathouse on the Licking River in Wilder, Ky that was to be partially funded by a $1 million donation from a trustee. The plan was dropped in 2004 when cost estimates rose to nearly $6 million.
The lawsuit also charged that the crew coaches are underpaid and that the team doesn’t get a certified trainer to travel with them and that other male teams get priority for use of common facilities.
Judge Thomas S. Rose ruled against the team though because he noted that that percentage of female athletes at the university was higher than the percentage of female undergraduates which is a central formula of Title IX compliance.
Also even though the team now only has club status they have access to a new athletic training center which undermined their claim of unequal facilities.
What the women’s team apparently didn’t understand is that Title IX doesn’t guarantee that a particular women’s team is guaranteed the right to exist without regard to finances. The university did the right thing in this case by simply replacing the crew team with another varsity sport, women’s lacrosse which helped keep the school in Title IX compliance and reduced their costs as well. Can anyone fault the school for trying to reign in spending?
This is probably of little comfort to the crew team that lost it’s varsity status and school funding, but they have now learned that Title IX can be a two-edged sword. In this case the sword cut through the heart of the team.