Athletics director, coaches discourage idea of cutting men’s sports, roster sizes
Despite the addition of women’s golf and lacrosse in the past two years, Central Michigan University must continue making changes to be Title IX compliant.
CMU aims to achieve “substantial proportionality" with the ratio of men and women participating in sports to the undergraduate enrollment gender ratio by 2018-2019, according to a 2012 Board of Trustees presentation. Universities are required to comply with Title IX, which aims to provide equal opportunities to men and women.
There were 9,489 women and 7,776 men as undergraduates on campus in fall 2015 — a ratio of 54.96 percent to 45.04 percent. Men took 239 of the 458 total roster spots in 2015-16 — making up 52.18 percent of the participants — based on approximate roster numbers from cmuchippewas.com.
In fall 2012, men made up 61 percent of athletics participants at CMU.
“The Board (of Trustees) has been very clear that they want to increase opportunities for the female gender on our campus,” said Athletics Director Dave Heeke. “That’s what we’re focused on doing.”
To have a ratio in athletics participants reflecting the university’s gender ratio, CMU would need to add approximately 73 women’s roster spots or take away about 60 men’s roster spots.
At the April 5 Academic Senate meeting, the group agreed to look into the possibility of cutting men’s sports or roster sizes and explore adding additional women’s sports.
Heeke said the department would likely need additional institutional funding if it were to add more women’s sports. CMU’s long-term gender equity plan has the school adding two additional sports in the coming years.
CMU is not able to drop an entire sport, said Director of Track and Field/Cross Country Mark Guthrie. The NCAA requires Division I schools to have at least six men’s sports and eight women’s sports. CMU has six men’s sports and 10 women’s sports.
“Right now, as far as I know, we are the minimum number of men’s sports,” Guthrie said. “We can’t go lower without replacing something. At this point, I don’t think we can drop anything. All I can do is what they give me to work with and tell me.”
After football, the men's track and field team uses the largest amount of roster spots at CMU with approximately 47. In the Mid-American Conference, all 12 schools have women’s track and field teams. CMU is one of five with an indoor track program and one of six with an outdoor program.
Guthrie said the university would lose money by cutting the track program since a majority of the student-athletes are not on scholarship and pay full tuition.
“Lets say 40 are not on full scholarship,” he said. “Forty times $22,000, that’s $1 million almost that they are going to wipe out. Can they afford a million-dollar cut? I don’t know, I don’t see the books. Along with taking away those opportunities, you are going to reduce revenue and most universities to some extent are tuition driven.
Another option is trimming roster sizes for men’s teams, while still meeting the required minimums. Four of the five largest rosters at CMU are men’s teams.
“I don’t like to see opportunities taken away from anybody,” said Football Head Coach John Bonamego. “My personal preference would be to increase opportunities so that we don’t have to reduce roster sizes.”
Both Bonamego and Guthrie said they would likely be consulted before any roster sizes or programs were trimmed. They said they have not been involved in such conversations so far.
The Academic Senate will present research on the possibilities to the Board of Trustees. The topic is not on the agenda for the April 29 Board of Trustees meeting.
Staff Reporter Ryan Warriner contributed to this story.