HBCUs Fail Title IX

, Don Irvine, Leave a comment

Compliance with Title IX which can even be a struggle for some of the larger colleges and universities in the country is a particular problem for the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) according to a new study released this week by the College Sports Council.

According to the study there are nearly 212,000 students enrolled at the nation’s HBCUs with 61% being female, meaning that on the average, to comply with Title IX, 61% of all the athletes at these schools should be female. When applying the proportionality test to the athletic programs at these schools the council found that 73 of the 75 schools failed this standard. Only tiny Allen University and Morris College were in compliance.

Of the 73 schools that were out of compliance, the study found that they would have received an “F” from the Women’s Sports Foundation in their latest report card on gender equity in athletics and that the other 43 schools are facing the possibility of lengthy and expensive litigation to bring them into compliance.

The average female athlete gender gap, according to the study, was 20.2% and if all the schools were forced into compliance that would result in a net loss of nearly 3,400 male athletes. In one case, Winston-Salem University in North Carolina would need to shed 123 of its 321 male athletes or 39% of the total. Even larger and better known HBCUs such as Howard University, Florida A & M and Jackson State University would be forced to drop male athletes to fully comply with the law.

Wade Hughes, the former head coach of the Howard University wrestling and baseball teams that were terminated in 2002 due to Title IX, said that “Adding sports teams for male athletes will not only attract more students to their campuses, but help to achieve a more balanced undergraduate student ratio. If these schools are forced to comply with Title IX’s proportionality test, then adding sports teams to attract more male students is not an option.”

Hughes is correct when he points out that most male students are attracted to a school for the sports teams, and at the HBCUs, which are mostly smaller schools, they afford athletes that didn’t have the talent, grades or just wanted to be at a black college or university the opportunity to play at the collegiate level. If you take away the sports teams you remove a huge incentive for males to enroll which has already been done. At Howard the female population is now at 66%, creating an impossibly high barrier for the school to reach for compliance. And what does compliance buy them? A little more time? After all, it was only five years ago when Howard eliminated the sports he coached only to find themselves in the same boat today.

This leaves the schools in a quandary. They need more male students to balance their enrollment, yet how do they do that when they are eliminating sports, which is a major draw? Add to this the traditional financial struggles of the HBCUs and it is a recipe for disaster.

What this study shows once again is that although Title IX was created with the lofty idea of bringing gender equity to sports at the college level and below that instead it has created an unlevel playing field where male athletes are now penalized just because more females may have happened to have enrolled at their school. This continued politically correct belief that female athletes need some sort of special rules or protection in order for them to compete is absurd in this day and age and should be a personal affront to women everywhere.

Now let me sign my daughter up for the women’s varsity bowling team.

Don Irvine is the chairman of both Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia.