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CMU to add more women’s sports in next few years

In an effort to continue striving toward Title IX compliance, Central Michigan University plans to add more women’s sports in the next few years.

CMU Athletics Director Dave Heeke said Thursday the school’s athletics committee, comprised of faculty members, campus leaders, students and representatives from the athletics department, plans to meet Friday to begin the process of a “full exploration of adding sports.”

Dave Heeke

“Generally, that results in sports for the underrepresented portion … for that, it is female sports,” Heeke said. “We think in the next year to two years, you’re going to start seeing additional sports.”

In an effort to prove compliance with the gender equality law, CMU issued a survey to all students in the spring of 2009 gauging the interest and ability of female athletes. The survey, which had about 2,200 respondents, concluded there was a very limited interest in adding new women’s sports. However, a repeal in April 2010 – the George W. Bush administration had ruled a survey was sufficient enough – forced schools to adhere to more stringent criteria to prove that they were compliant.

“We went through process and the survey showed that there was not a substantial interest level in additional sports — that we were meeting the needs,” Heeke said. “When the Obama administration came in, that tool was deemed non-compliant and the Office of Civil Rights came back and said you can’t use that anymore. When that went away, we had to start over.”

According to the U.S. News & World Report database, female students at CMU comprise about 55 percent of total enrollment. Under Title IX, introduced in the Education Amendment of 1972 by the U.S. Department of Education, public institutions are obligated to recognize the increased interest and ability for women to participate in intercollegiate athletics. For most schools, CMU included, that means adding additional teams to try and close the gap between the number of men and women playing sports.

CMU added women’s soccer in 1998, and it is unknown which sports are next. Golf, swimming and tennis are the obvious choices – all three are played by other Mid-American Conference schools and provide immediate access to recruiting around the state and region – but the exploration process will determine interest and feasibility for the school, Heeke said.

CMU is also required to gauge interest in sports deemed “emerging” by the NCAA, such as equestrian, sand volleyball and rugby.

“It’s a very open slate right now,” Heeke said. “We don’t go in with any preconceived notions.”

Whichever sport(s) the school decides to add, Heeke said will require an additional investment to the $22 million athletics department budget. How much of an investment remains to be seen and will depend on the sport. A swimming team would require a brand new facility, costing upwards of $20 million.

Currently, CMU offers eight women’s sports and six men’s teams. While it might appear women have more opportunities to play sports, scholarships for football result in significant more for men than women. About 85 scholarships are given out to student-athletes playing football at CMU, Heeke said. More than one women’s sport could be added, and would be done in a stair-step approach over a several-year timeframe.

“There’s not a sport like that on the female side, so you have to add multiple sports to add an equal number,” Heeke said.


  1. This is absurd. A bunch of leftist feminists are forcing more worthless sports that nobody attends down our throats. Women aren’t “underrepresented” anymore at most colleges. At CMU, women are a majority of the student body. I’m all for getting rid of half the male and female sports. Nobody goes to them. Does CMU really need field hockey — or worse yet a new rugby team? Come on. This is pathetic. If CMU has to add a sport, it should have men’s and women’s ice hockey.

  2. Equestrian…….really??

  3. Michmediaperson says:

    I’m confused on this story.

    In April 2010, George W Bush was long gone.  He’d been gone since January, 2009.

    Then, Obama is mentioned.

    So is it Obama that is going against the wishes of the CMU students?  And, is it Barack Hussein Obama that is going to force Heeke and CMU to spend more money on something that the university and students don’t want? 

    If so, send the bill to Obama and Debbie Stabenow and tell them to pay for it out of their own pocket.  Perhaps, Obama wouldn’t take a 4 million dollar Christmas vacation to Hawaii next December.

  4. CMU Alum '78 says:

    ‘Chip’ obviously has a proverbial chip on his shoulder regarding women’s sports. ‘Michmedia’ saw this not as an article about CMU sports, but a political statement…sigh.  ‘Guest’ noted the rediculous (rightly so!!) about adding equestrian.  I had the same reaction!  Although, I do agree with ‘Chip’ that CMU should add hockey to both men’s and women’s varsity athletics.  It would give us another avenue for beating the broncos!

  5. Add both women’s and men’s varsity hockey. At the same time take the “Ice Chips” Central’s award winning Women’s Syncro Skating Team (not organized this year) and make them a varsity sport. Lots of competition in the MAC and other Big Ten schools.

    MP has an ice area so you get two women’s and one men’s sports in one fell swoop and it won’t cost $20 million dollars.

    • I don’t think the existing Mt. Pleasant arena would meet NCAA hockey standards, especially crowd capacity. They’d be better off using Finch Fieldhouse. If I recall, Finch is big enough if you move out one of the end walls and extend the building by a few feet.

  6. Michmediaperson says:

    To CMU Alum ’78

    This is political.  What business is it of Obama or Romney or whoever the president is to tell us what sports CMU can and can’t have.  It’s none of Washington’s business.

    In the first place, it takes a lot of guys to be on a football team because of injuries, 22 on the field at a time. 

    So, to give women equal time is foolish.

    Football should be taken out of the equation or be averaged out on how many women it takes to be on a team.   So, if the average women’s team is 11.4 participants, for example, then use that on the male side, instead of 70 or 80 male participants.  Whatever number it is.

    But it’s not the Federal Government’s business to be meddling in CMU’s athletic business.  They can’t run Washington, let alone every athletic department.

  7. CMU Alum”78 and Chip, you fellas must be on the younger side.  It has been some years now that Title IX was enacted and has major funding to institutions tied to it.  So to say this is political is wrong.  It has been the law for many years.  Women have the right to compete and need equal facilities and money to do so.  Mr. Heeke and CMU are doing their best to follow the law.

  8. Title IX is problematic.  It should be based on equal opportunity but its now being used to attain equal outcomes, even though women generally have less interest in playing sports.  Since its implementation, hundreds of men’s teams have been cut.  I don’t see how eliminating men’s athletic programs creates opportunities for women.

  9. Title IX was never about equality, it’s simply about punishing boys/men. Recently, basketball for boys up to grade 8 was cut in pittsburg schools. They tried ever means possible to encourage girls to play basketball, but not enough girls wanted to play. The ruling is, if girls don’t want to play boy’s are forbidden to play. Title IX will soon be extended to every level of schooling and grade level. They’ll no longer be any trade schools for boys if girls don’t want to learn that particular trade. Boys are being punished for being boys. 

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