Title IX is Killing Olympic Sports/ A commentary

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The following commentary was written by James Dunaway, the editor of American Track & Field and Athletes Only. James loves our sport: he has been credentialed for fifteen Summer Olympics, going to his first on a tramp steamer in 1956. He is also a keen observer of our sport. I learn from his everytime we speak, he is my mentor, he is my friend, he is a fine editor. It does not mean that we agree always, we actually have some pretty colorful arguements. I always know it is not going well we James starts the conversations off with, " Well, you are probably going to fire me now..."

One of the points we wholeheartedly agree on is how Title IX, while well meaning, is being used to destroy minor sports, which also tend to be Olympic sports. In the Wall Street Journal of August 9, 2007, a column on the destruction of six of Rutger's University's athletic traditions, including crew, was printed.

Rutgers University has produced nineteen crew Olympians. Several attempts have been made to fund the programs, yet the University board threatened to refuse the money. The seven sports cut will save $795,000. Yet, the athletic director just gave both the men's football and the women's basketball coaches raises of over $500k each-so it is not about money.

Football has become mass entertainment. Schools derive their identities from
football programs. But, in my mind, universities are supposed to be places of higher learning, where both the body and mind are educated. I remember my college football coach, the late Pat Malley, a man who won 500 football games in his career, letting football players out of practice to study, and be real students.

Please read the commentary by James Dunaway and tell me what you think!

Yes, you, Peter Ueberroth, and you, Craig Masback.

In the past 30-odd years, the very admirable idea of Title IX has been twisted into a form that threatens the future of the United States' performance in the Olympic Games.

Since the enactment of Title IX in 1972, and the bureaucratic promulgation of "guidelines" which have gradually hardened into fiat law, university after university has dropped participation in a number of men's varsity sports, citing Title IX as the reason.

The worst hits have been taken by men's wrestling and gymnastics. More than 400 collegiate wrestling teams have been discontinued, and according to the NCAA only 17 Division One men's gymnastics programs are still competing. Seventeen!

Track and field and swimming have also been hard hit. Among the men's swimming programs dropped are UCLA and Miami, which between them have produced 27 Olympic medals. The scores of major discontinued men's track programs include Southern Methodist, Bowling Green, West Virginia, Western Michigan -- and most recently Ohio University and James Madison.

Since 1896, United States athletes have won a total of 2,089 Olympic medals. More than ha1f, 1,095, have been won by male athletes in just four sports -- men's track and field (605 medals), men's gymnastics (58), men's swimming and diving (316), and wrestling (116) -- the very sports that have suffered the most from the restructuring of collegiate sports brought about by the current Title IX "rules."

If that isn't a crisis for the USOC, what is? Where is the USOC going to be if the four sports that have won 52.4% of all U.S. Olympic medals go out of business?

The James Madison announcement brought a strong reaction from Equity in Athletics, a non-profit organization which seeks to change the rules which universities say is the reason why so many men's programs have been chopped.

Equity in Athletics is doing something about the crisis -- suing the U.S. Department of Education to get those rules changed.

I believe that you, Peter Ueberroth, and you, Craig Masback, should be doing something, too.

First, you and the leaders of every NGB involved with an Olympic sport must recognize that this is a crisis. Get it off the back burner and start thinking about ways to solve the problem.

Second, USOC and USATF should take an interest in the Equity in Athletics lawsuit. EIA has taken a different legal route from the prior Title IX cases that have failed, and the USOC and all the NGBs ought to have their lawyers study the approach EIA has taken and file strongly supportive amicus curiae briefs.

If you don't do something about Title IX, it sure as hell will do something about you.

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