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Potential Gender Equity Proble...

There appears to be a growing tendency for athletic directors to allocate identical budgets to like sports e.g. men’s and women’s tennis teams or golf teams etc. At first blush, this may seem to be an admirable practice because when an institution does not offer football, this approach may result in full compliance with Title IX in the treatment of student-athletes.

However, when an institution does offer football, the end result of allocating identical sports budgets means that the football budget may be excluded from equity considerations since there is no comparable women’s football team.   As we all know, the exclusion of football expenditures from a Title IX analysis has always been strictly prohibited.

This does not mean that in all instances an institution automatically would be out of compliance with Title IX.    In fact, if the correct proportion of female athletes receives comparable benefits to those afforded the football team then it is possible that the school is in compliance.  These benefits would include all the items in the “laundry list” as well as in the area of scholarship expenditures.
Items in the “Laundry List” are as follows:

  • equipment & supplies
  • scheduling of practice & competition
  • travel & per diem
  • opportunities for coaching & academic tutors
  • assignment & compensation of coaches & academic tutors
  • locker room, practice & competitive facilities
  • medical & training facilities & services
  • housing & dining facilities & services
  • publicity
  • support services
  • recruitment of student-athletes.

A major problem arises when the members of the football team are afforded better treatment than any of the female athletes in any of the above areas but in this article the focus is only on the operating budgets for the sports.

The magnitude of the potential problem of allocating identical budgets in the same sport is well illustrated by using real median expenditures from the 2009 NCAA Revenues/Expenditures Report:
Division I – FBS
Men’s Sports        Expenditures    Women’s Sports         Expenditures
Football                $11,919,000
Basketball              $3,958,000        Basketball                $2,040,000
                                                      *Field Hockey                $811,000
Golf                         same allocations to men’s and women’s teams
Gymnastics             same allocations to men’s and women’s teams
Ice Hockey              same allocations to men’s and women’s teams
Lacrosse                 same allocations to men’s and women’s teams
Soccer                     same allocations to men’s and women’s teams
Swimming/Diving    same allocations to men’s and women’s teams
Tennis                     same allocations to men’s and women’s teams
                                                        *Volleyball                   $905,000
*Women’s programs tend to have two more sports than men in order to help offset the large number of football players.

One of the first questions that should be asked about this chart is why the expenditures on men’s basketball are almost double that for women’s basketball?  Salaries certainly will be one cause (and that is another potential problem) but it is unlikely to be the only cause for the difference.  An institution would be well advised to investigate this area to see if the differences can be justified especially when the teams are of similar size and play similar schedules in the same conference.

There is another very important analysis to review.  The latest NCAA Gender Equity Report was published in 2006.  The results show that in Division 1 – FBS institutions, football expenditures were 59% of the men’s budget, men’s basketball expenses were 19% and all that was left for the rest of the men’s sports was 22%.  It would be difficult to argue that men’s so called “minor” sports are treated in the same fashion and receive the same benefits as football and men’s basketball.   This is very obvious when 19% is spent on 15 basketball players and 22% may be expected to fund 6 or more men’s sports at many institutions.  This is a vivid example of how “major” and “minor” men’s sports are supported i.e. 1st class citizens and 2nd or 3rd class citizens.

Now that Athletic Directors are allocating the same amount to like sports, it is clear that women’s sports are now being forced into the same classifications, with the exception of women’s basketball.  This means that with identical budgets in like sports, all the women’s sports, except for basketball, will probably be treated as 3rd class citizens.  This “unofficial” tiering appears to be:
Tier 1:  football & men’s basketball
Tier 2: women’s basketball
Tier 3: all other men’s and women’s sports.
At institutions where this is true, these institutions are in violation of Title IX.

Although in the first chart, women have two more sports than men, the expenditures on these sports is miniscule compared to the expenditures on football so it cannot be said that having two extra sports for women offsets the expenditures on football.
    Expenditures                         Expenditures
Football    $11,919,000            Field Hockey    $811,000
                                                 Volleyball        $905,000
TOTAL       $11,919,000            TOTAL          $1,716,000

Of course, equal funding is not required by Title IX but comparable treatment of student-athletes is required.   It would behoove any institution to ensure that comparable treatment of student-athletes is a reality rather than a myth.  It would be helpful in an analysis to remove salaries (which is an entirely different problem) and also event management costs and then compute a per capita cost for a male student-athlete and a female student-athlete.  Unless there are legitimate expenditure differences that can be justified, the per capita should be about the same for men and women.   A recent analysis of Division III programs without football did indeed result in almost identical per capita costs.  Again, the same per capita costs for men and women are not required by Title IX, but it is a fast and efficient way to determine if comparable benefits are being provided to male and female student-athletes. If significant differences exist between the per capita costs, this would be a strong indication that further investigation should be done to see if legitimate and justifiable differences can be found.   If not, action should be taken to eliminate any discriminatory practices.