Academic Senate motions to consider changing number of women's, men’s sports
In an effort to remain Title IX compliant, the Academic Senate agreed Tuesday to look into the possibility of cutting men’s sports or roster counts as an alternative to adding women’s sports.
Academic Senate members approved a motion at the end of the meeting to create two reports for the Board of Trustees, with one considering adding two women’s sports and one considering reducing the number of male athletes at CMU.
Multiple senate members suggested the possibility of eliminating the football program or swapping it with a soccer program because of the large number of male athletes on the team. Athletics Director Dave Heeke dismissed the inquiry, adding that the decision goes past the purview of the gender equity committee.
“Without football, we would no longer be a member of the Mid-American Conference,” Heeke said. “We could not participate at the Mid-American Conference level as a full member. You must have football, you must have basketball on the men’s and women’s side and volleyball on the women’s side. That’s a minimum requirement that you must offer those sports.”
Athletics Committee Chair Liz Brockman said the Office of Civil Rights frowns upon cutting men’s sports to remain Title IX compliant, as “the point is to provide opportunities for women, not to cut programs for men.”
Cutting roster sizes for men’s sports instead of cutting an entire sport or sports is a likely solution, Heeke said. No specific sports were mentioned for limiting participant numbers for men or for adding new sports for women.
The total number of women on campus enrolled at CMU was 10,739 undergraduate and graduate students in 2014, which made up 54 percent of the total 19,858 on-campus student population.
Female students have made up a majority of the student body as far back as 1980, when 9,430 female students and 7,482 male students attended the university.
The section of Title IX CMU complies with requires an equal number of men’s and women’s participants in athletics.
One option is to add two additional women’s sports — as CMU decided in 2012 with adding lacrosse and golf — or adding one larger women’s sport, such as rugby.
The operating budget is $220,000 for lacrosse and $175,000 for golf, which doesn’t include salaries, benefits, scholarships and new facilities, Heeke said.
To be fiscally responsible, Director for the Center for Applied Research and Rural Studies Mary Senter said CMU should cut two men’s sports instead of adding two for women.
"The advantage of that is, the athletic budget would be much less and as a consequence, there would be more money for other things,” Senter said. “The idea that there is just a blank check for athletics is just extremely disturbing.”
Heeke said CMU is not able to cut two men’s sports. He added the athletics department looks deeply at all these possibilities to be most financially responsible.
“There is a minimum number. You could not cut two sports and remain sanctioned by the NCAA on the men’s side,” he said. “We would be below the minimum. We would not be sanctioned by the NCAA to compete.”
CMU’s six men’s sports are football, basketball, baseball, wrestling, track and field and cross country. The 10 women’s sports are basketball, volleyball, track and field, cross country, softball, gymnastics, field hockey, soccer, golf and lacrosse.
Athletics is looking at six to eight potential women’s sports to see which would fit best at CMU, based on the local high school recruiting base, the number of other close schools with the program, if the Mid-American Conference sponsors the sport and other factors.
The only women's sports sponsored by the Mid-American Conference that CMU does not participate in are swimming and diving as well as tennis. Other NCAA-sponsored women's sports CMU does not participate in are beach volleyball, bowling, fencing, ice hockey, rifle, rowing, skiing and water polo.