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Title IX and the Big Red
lgp28@cornell.edu
| April 26, 2011
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The New York Times rarely features Cornell women's sports, but [[link|url=http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/26/sports/26titleix.html?_r=1&hp]]today's article [[end-link]] on potential abuses to Title IX, the 40 year old law banning discrimination in any educational program, highlighted several Big Red teams. To comply with the requirement that a proportional number of male and female athletes are offered the opportunity to compete on Division I teams, many schools have resorted to padding rosters of woman's teams with practice players who either don't actively participate or are men used in practices.The New York Times rarely features Cornell women’s sports, but [[link|url=http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/26/sports/26titleix.html?_r=1&hp]]today’s article [[end-link]] on potential abuses to Title IX, the 40 year old law banning discrimination in any educational program, highlighted several Big Red teams. To comply with the requirement that a proportional number of male and female athletes are offered the opportunity to compete on Division I teams, many schools have resorted to padding rosters of woman’s teams with practice players who either don’t actively participate or are men used in practices. This padding is fairly widespread across the country and is often referred to as roster management. At Cornell 19 men were included on the rosters of the women’s fencing, volleyball and basketball teams last year. On the men’s rowing team, five female coxswains were counted as female athletes. This tactic is euphemistically called “roster management.” Cornell’s Athletic Director, Andy Noel, said, “We count who we’re supposed to count”. While acknowledging the method of counting may be exploiting a loophole, men’s rowing coach, Todd Kennett, stated that counting female coxswains on the men’s team allowed him to carry more men on the team. There seems to be some confusion over what is allowed by Title IX, with Russlynn Ali, the Assistant Education Secretary who heads the Office for Civil Rights stating that counting men as women would not be allowed by her office. However, she admitted that formal inquiries are rare. Men on the Cornell woman’s basketball and fencing teams are used in training to simulate larger faster opponents. The women on these teams feel they benefit from practicing against male opponents, so there is some benefit to the practice. Of the instances cited by the Times, Cornell does not appear to be the most egregious violator. However, the question is really whether this tactic is shortchanging women’s sports. It is cheaper to count the 19 males listed on woman’s teams than it is for Cornell to start a new team sport using these 19 slots for female athletes. As long as schools remain conscious of the spirit and true intent of Title IX, it seems that this policy is not too harmful. Ideally though, all Division I teams would operate according to this clearly defined rule and more women at Cornell would get to participate in intercollegiate sports.
Originally Aired: Tuesday, April 26, 2011. This is a part of the 93-Second Sports Shot series. 93-Second Sports Shots air weekday evenings at 6pm.
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