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January 27, 2000 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-01-27

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Thursday, January 27, 2000 - The Michigan Daily - 13A
PROPORTIONALITY OR EQUALITY?
The wrestling world is scrambling to save itself from a radical legal interpretation of Title IX

his past April, Brigham Young
University cancelled its
wrestling and gymnastics pro-
g.rams, effective at the conclusion of
th is year. The program will be the
ih Division I wrestling team can-
(Ilcd since 1990. Athletes who chose
td compete for the university are now
sarching elsewhere for a chance to
wrestle again.
- The reason?
Title IX and its proportionality
iterpretation.
A 1972 amendment to the Civil
hts Act of 1964, Title IX was
plemented to give women equal
tghts in universities receiving federal
fnancial assistance. In doing so, it
eove universities around the country
t adhere to the standards of the law
o6 face the consequences.
,,But the standards are the controver-
sjal part.
,The buzzword around the country's
Mcstling population is proportionali-
9 a term which describes one of
three ways for a school to comply
with Title IX. By far the most diffi-
cult way to achieve compliance, it is
a interpretation of the law thatstates
that the percentage of women in the
university must equal the percentage
of women in the different depart-
ments of extracurricular activities.
And the activity most carefully regu-
lated is athletics.
It's difficult to find a wrestling
each that is against Title IX. Most
are willing to admit that it is a great
law with fantastic possibilities.
It is equally difficult to find a sin-
gle person involved with college
wrestling who would support propor-
tionality.
"Everyone's for equal opportunity,"
Michigan wrestling coach Joe
McFarland said. "But even the
men would agree that they don't
nt to see men's sports cut."
A lot of people are wondering why
the other restrictions that Title IX
requires are not always followed. J.
jaobinson is the wrestling coach at
M innesota and one of the heads of an
organization called Simply Common
Sense, a group striving to convince
the masses about the harmful conse-
quences of proportionality.
One of his concerns is that, if the
*tas of Title IX were imposed on
other departments at the universities
j- as the amendment implies - the
entire system would be in jeopardy.
Robinson explained that there are
n~t a proportional amount of profes-
sors and that there isn't a proportion-
al amount of deans.
"If it is so great, why isn't it being
implemented in the university across
t board?" he asked. "Until it
>acts them, administrators don't
really care about it."
Laying the blame
Most individuals hurt by the
restrictions attribute the problem to
Norma Cantu, Assistant Secretary for
Civil Rights in the United States
Department of Education. They claim
that Cantu instigated the interpreta-
tion of Title IX focusing solely on
proportionality.
"Proportionality is illegal,"
Aham Young wrestling coach Mark
Schultz said. "It's a quota that's ille-
gal. if 50 percent of the city is
women, does that mean that 50 per-
cent of the fire department and police
have to be women?"
Title IX has made some ground
breaking steps in creating opportuni-
ties for women. The fact that many
schools have either reached propor-
ality, or are close, shows positive
cInge from the way things were, not
too long ago.

The United States women's soccer
team winning last year's World Cup
was a big step for women in today's
sports world.
.But on the other side, scores of
men around the country thirst for the
old days, when no such concerns
existed.
And these men are standing behind
victims of "progress," the men's

By Jon Schwartz

wrestling programs around the coun-
try.
"The policy interpretation of Title
IX actually goes against Title IX,"
Schultz said. "It's incredible!"
One group of these men, the
Iowans Against Quotas, is trying to
convince the country of the illegality
of propor-
t i on alit y.
E r i c
L e S h e r,
president of
the IAQ,.
will not rest
until the
proportion-
ality inter-
pretation is
r e in o v e d
from Title
IX.
The goal
of LeSher's
program isĀ«
to convince
the next
president of
the United While Michigan's wrestlers
States to from proportionality, others
someone to Cantu's position, some-
one that would not perpetuate the
discrimination he feels Cantu has. So
far, the organization has presidential
candidates Gary Bauer, Steve Forbes
and Alan Keyes signed onto its peti-
tion. -
George W. Bush's campaign
Website states that the GOP front-
runner "opposes quotas and racial
preferences," convincing. LeSher that
Bush would also help out the IAQ's
cause.
But Democrats Bill Bradley and Al
Gore have refused to join in the
cause.
Bradley spokesperson Tony Wyche
explained the candidate's position.
"His view is that we need to do
what we can to elevate women's
sports. Title IX has been very effec-
tive at doing that. He is not going to
support any elimination of Title IX."
Why wrestling?
But why is wrestling always the
offering of universities looking for
proportionality?
Syracuse University also recently
cut their program, and wrestling
coach Scott Miller said the reason is
because it is easy to oust. There is no
comparative female sport, as there is
in tennis and basketball. Also, the
teams are extremely large -- one of
the largest groups in college athletics.
By axing wrestling, he said that a
program can cut down its proportion-
ality by 35 athletes.
But just because Miller under-
stands why wrestling is facing the
brunt of the cuts, it doesn't mean that
he agrees with it. In fact, when the
Syracuse program was cut after the
'96 -'97 season, Miller wasn't even
there. He was coaching at Campbell
University, far away in North
Carolina. But when he heard that the
program was put on life support with
a minimal budget until 2001, he
couldn't stay away.

ha
ha

"I wanted to be part of the solu-
tion," he said. "'I wanted to come in
and do everything that I could. If this
program goes, who's safe?"
But Syracuse is not alone.
The school is joined by Notre
Dame, Miami '(Ohio), many other
schools in getting rid of wrestling and
other non-
r e v e n u e
sports. In
the last 30
years, more
than 450
w wrestling
programs
have been
eliminated.
That figure
far surpass-
Ses the num-
ber of cuts
in any other
sport during
the same
. time period.
M*"" But there
are two
JESSICA JOHNSON/aly sides to
ave avoided the troubles
ave not been so lucky. every story.-
Co n ceding
to Title IX and then admitting to hav-
ing done so is taboo among athletic
directors around the country. But
appropriate or not, critics of the
choice are demanding that the truth
- their truth - come out.
"We made a decision based on bud-
getary restraints," Fred Skousen,
Advancement Vice-President at
Brigham Young said. "It was obvious-
ly not something that we wanted to
do."
But the fact remains, that in order
to meet those budgetary issues, men's
sports are being dropped and
women's sports are being added.
Money or interest?
The cause for the budgetary con-
cerns are often called into question.
LeSher does not agree with the logic
that the sport is not viable for many
universities because it runs revenue
losses.
"They're using money as a scape-
goat," LeSher said. "Very few athlet-
ic programs are profitable for a uni-
versity. If profit was the problem,
there would only be a few football
and basketball programs.
"I wish that they would call a spade
a spade."
Robinson was not quite so calm in
his analysis of the administrators
standing behind their "budgetary
issues."
"They're cowards," he said.
"They're afraid that if they say that
Title IX is the reason, then the women
will get after them."
Robinson is vehement in pushing
his argument for abolishing propor-
tionality. He asserts that the issue is
not about absolute equality in sports
programs, but rather, interest. When
proportionality came to prominence
as the sole interpretation of Title IX,
the part of the amendment stating that
a university is in compliance if
women's interests are being met was
ignored.

Daily Sports Writer
And Robinson strongly feels that
interest is not the same.
He cites intramural sports as an
example. At Minnesota there are 48
men's intramural teams. There are 12
women's squads.
Robinson also claims that he had to
work hard as a coach to make his pro-
gram eligible for success. He had to
deal with limited budgets and equally
limited respect for his program. And
at the same time, he had to establish
record good enough to warrant addi-
tional funding.
As he sees it, women's sports such
as basketball evolved from nothing
into revenue sports. The university
saw a need for women's sports to
counter the successful men's basket-
ball programs and therefore, created
them.
"In the olden days," Robinson said,
"you had to pay your dues. How did
men's sports evolve? Shouldn't
women's sports evolve the same way?
"I've paid my dues. They haven't."
The lost truth
But lost in the two sides of this
story is the truth. While everyone
involved claims to be disclosing the
actual reasons for the problems, there
are simply too many reasons and too
many sides -- "too many truths" to
find a single one.
Jane C. Meyer, Director of
Education Outreach for the NCAA,
doesn't see proportionality as a prob-
lem. She claimed that proportionality
is only one way to meet Title IX's
requirements. She claimed that there
is no correlation between program
cuts and the amendment.
"If they say it's because of propor-
tionality, that's an individual decision
based on the university," Meyer said.
Another example is the situation at
Brigham Young. Jeff Reynolds, a rep-
resentative of athletic external rela-
tions at Brigham Young, tried to use
the fact that Utah is hardly a hotbed
of wrestling talent as a reason for
choosing it as a sport to cut.
"In Utah, we have one school dis-
trict which is renowned for
wrestling," he said. "Utah is primari-
ly a basketball and football state."
In his defense of the program,
Schultz asserted the exact opposite
opinion. before even hearing
Reynolds' statement. Schultz claimed
that the state actually boasts impres-

sive wrestling figures, and was
shocked to learn Reynolds' reason-
ing.
"I don't understand why BYU
would drop wrestling because Utah
has one of the highest per-capita rates
of competition," he said.
Syracuse athletic director Jake
Crouthamel gave another reason for
cutting wrestling and men's gymnas-
tics - one that did not stand up to
deeper investigation.
"We looked around the country at
trends in colleges and what was hap-
pening on the high school level," he
said, continuing on to explain that
there had been some participation
falloff in high schools.
But since 1990, the National
Federation of State High School

Association tracked wrestling compe-
tition figures increasing every year.
In the year before the decision to cut
wrestling was made, there were 8,677
high school wrestlers across the
country. In the year after the cut,
there were 8,900.
Upon being informed of the NFH$
figures, Crouthamel denied ever ha,
ing mentioned participation trends in
high school.
There is no ultimate truth to solve
the problem. In matters of opinion, io
black-and-white answer can be given.
to make sense of personal choices.,
But as the search continues without
an answer, the discrimination that
Title IX aimed to solve will remain a
prominent figure in college sports in
the eyes of those affected.

w

ENotre Dame

Number of Division I
wrestling programs

GEOFF GAGNON/Davy

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