Central Michigan University, almost one year after public discussion began, will consider adding Division I women’s golf and lacrosse at its scheduled trustees meeting this week.
A Monday afternoon news release from the university said it will receive a recommendation Thursday from the 15-member Gender Equity Committee, comprised of coaches, administrators, faculty members and students, to adopt women’s golf and women’s lacrosse, increasing the number of CMU-sponsored female athletic teams to 10.
The recommendation is being made “to reinforce the university’s commitment to equitable athletics participation for men and women and to ensure CMU’s continued compliance with Title IX,” according to the release.
The committee was charged in January to assess CMU’s compliance with Title IX, introduced in the U.S. Department of Education’s 1972 amendment requiring public institutions to recognize increased interest and ability of women to play intercollegiate athletics, and begin preliminary discussion of additional sports.
“Generally, that results in sports for the underrepresented portion … for that, it is female sports,” CMU athletics director Dave Heeke told Central Michigan Life in January. “We think in the next year to two years, you’re going to start seeing additional sports.”
CMU issued a survey to students in spring 2009 to gauge interest in adding female sports, but results from about 2,220 respondents showed “there was not a substantial interest level in additional sports,” Heeke said in January.
A repeal by the Obama administration in April 2010 — the George W. Bush administration had ruled the survey sufficient enough — required schools to take a second look, this time adhering to more stringent criteria to prove compliance. Athletics officials have said previously they were never deemed ‘noncompliant,’ but CMU chose to re-explore the issue.
A U.S. News & World Report database shows females make up about 55 percent of CMU’s total enrollment.
Heeke said in January that adding more teams to the program would require an increase the department’s $23.8 million budget, more than 70 percent of which is subsidized by the university.
CMU already sponsors eight women’s sports — basketball, cross country, field hockey, gymnastics, soccer, softball, track and field and volleyball — and six men’s sports, however the number of scholarships offered in football results in more scholarships for men.
Nine other Mid-American Conference schools sponsor women’s golf, including in-state rivals Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan. Lacrosse, however, is not recognized by the MAC and would require CMU to join another league or start independent. The University of Detroit, a member of the National Lacrosse Conference, is the only public institution in Michigan to sponsor women’s lacrosse at a Division I level.
CMU last added a Division I sport, women’s soccer, in 1998.
Keep checking cm-life.com for more on this developing story.