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Dukes Of Death: Title IX rules ravage Duquesne

by: daniel clark | published: 01 29, 2010

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"A strategic restructuring" is what Duquesne University is calling it. What it should be called is a brazenly illegal act of discrimination. Or else, you could simply call it liberalism as usual.

The school, which is located in the uptown section of Pittsburgh, described the "restructuring" of its athletic department in a press release, which read in part, "Focusing on and strengthening a core group of sports will maximize our ability to compete at the highest level, enhance the student athlete experience, and better utilize existing funding." It turns out that this "core group of sports" is comprised of ten women's programs, but only six men's. That's what remains after four teams -- baseball, wrestling, men's swimming and men's golf -- were abruptly given the axe.

Over the last half-century, Duquesne's athletic achievements have been, to put it charitably, modest. Practically the only thing they've had to brag about during the past twenty years is the fact that major league reliever Joe Beimel had pitched for the Dukes for one season, before being drafted by the Pirates. If the university was honest about "strengthening a core group of sports," it would be building its baseball team up, not cannibalizing it to support a dozen lower-profile programs.

On a Q&A page from its website, the athletic department identifies the factors it says went into it's decision -- "financial impact, facilities limitations, gender equity, Atlantic 10 Conference support/affiliation, potential competitive success and overall student athlete experience." Once you got to that third one, you might as well have stopped reading, because none of the rest matters. The folding of 40 percent of the men's athletic programs, while preserving 100 percent of the women's teams, is what university and government liberals euphemistically call an anti-discrimination policy.

In theory, this is done to satisfy the Title IX Education Amendments of 1972, the relevant part of which says, "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in … any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." To a normal, literate person living in the real world, this clearly forbids the exclusion from participation of 76 golfers, swimmers, wrestlers and baseball players on the basis that they are men. Unfortunately for the feminists who drive the "gender equity" movement, this conclusion does not coincide with their agenda. That's where the bureaucrats step in.

The responsibility for determining compliance with Title IX belongs to the Education Department, which has conveniently devised an enforcement mechanism that directly contradicts Title IX itself. In order to be deemed compliant, a university must meet at least one of three standards, two of which require it to expand opportunities for, or accommodate the interests of, the underrepresented sex.

When a school like Duquesne has a budgetary shortfall, it cannot eliminate a single women's program and still comply with either of these standards. Say, for instance, the Dukes only get rid of three men's teams, along with one women's team. If you're eliminating roster spots, you're obviously not expanding opportunities. Furthermore, you can't fold an existing team while still accommodating the interests of the athletes who belonged to it.

That leaves the third standard, known as the "proportionality test," which requires "bringing participation levels for the underrepresented sex into proportion with undergraduate enrollment rates." Because most colleges' enrollments are well over 50 percent female, and a solid majority of their athletes are men, the only way to demonstrate compliance with this standard is to exclude large numbers of male athletes from participating.

Whichever standard a school wants to use, the result will be the same. In order to comply with the proportionality test, it must eliminate men's athletic roster spots. To satisfy one of the other two standards, it must avoid the elimination of any roster spots belonging to women. Therefore, if the budget dictates that cuts be made, they will be made exclusively among the men's programs, for the very reason that the athletes are men. That's an absolute, undeniable violation of the actual law that is Title IX, yet the Education Department rules -- which lazy and dishonest sportswriters refer to as "Title IX" -- mandate it.

The administrators at Duquesne must understand that there are no consequences to breaking the law in this case, whereas they'd risk punishment by disobeying the capricious demands of liberal bureaucratic wonks. Therefore, they've opted to break the law. That's not a lesson their students are likely to find to be worth the price of tuition.

-- Daniel Clark is a Staff Writer for the New Media Alliance. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.

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Daniel Clark is a writer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. While earning an M.A. in English at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in the mid-90s, he had weekly opinion and sports columns published in the independent student newspaper. In 1999, he created a web publication called The Shinbone: The Frontier of the Free Press, for which he has written on a wide array of topics, but with a particular emphasis on the need to return to a literal interpretation of the Constitution. He is now a Staff Writer for the New Media Alliance, a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.



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