Board of Trustees / University

Title IX discussion continues for CMU

Central Michigan University is continuing its process of adding new women’s sports, as Title IX committee members met with board members Thursday to update its progress.

During the Board of Trustees meeting Thursday, Deputy Director of Athletics Derek van der Merwe explained what the committee would be doing in the future.

“We are currently in compliance. This assessment that we are going through is to determine future compliance and how to sustain compliance,” van der Merwe said.

Title IX is part of the Education Amendments of 1972, a federal civil rights statute that prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs that receive federal funding. Athletics, being under the umbrella of education, is held to the same standards as the academic opportunities at the university. This means the university needs to limit the gap in scholarships awarded to men and women. The university is currently in compliance with Title IX, but officials are looking to stay with compliance in the coming years.

Total scholarship dollars have to be divided in proportion to the participation of men and women in the intercollegiate athletics program. That means if 53 percent of participants are men and 47 percent of participants are women, the scholarship dollars must be awarded in the same manner.

In 2010, President Barak Obama’s administration changed the interpretation of Title IX, which resulted in CMU no longer being compliant. CMU was informed by the Department of Education in 2011 that the latest interpretation of Title IX was applied retroactively to CMU and that the university would need to look at adding more varsity women’s sports.

Title IX uses three guidelines to measure a program’s compliance. The athletic department must have substantial proportionality of participation, a history of expansion for the underrepresented gender and/or demonstrate that the interest and abilities of the underrepresented gender have been accommodated for. The university cannot claim the first or second guidelines, but can claim the third due to a survey conducted in 2009.

Although the university isn’t facing any issues with Title IX  at the moment, CMU wants to improve its compliance before problems arise in the future.

Currently, the university is conducting a search to find one or two new sports to have a better standing with Title IX.

“We have to continue to look at expanding opportunities,” van der Merwe said. “We are assessing all the conditions of our university right now and looking into the future conditions and saying ‘we have to start to expand to meet that interest that is growing.’”

 The Mid-American Conference recognizes three women’s varsity sports that CMU does not offer. Women’s tennis, swimming and golf are all currently MAC sports, but the university has also been advised to look at emerging sports such as equestrian and rugby.
“We are looking at every sport,” van der Merwe said. “We have not isolated or honed in on any single sport.”
The committee has also been examining local high school sports that have a high interest rate.
With the fall sports season already in full swing, the committee is still committed to bringing new women’s sports to CMU in the coming years.
“There is definitely going to be some movement to add a sport. It’s in the immediate future and we are committed to that,” van der Merwe said.

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