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JMU News

2/8/2007

TITLE IX STATEMENT

The decision to eliminate ten sports at the university was difficult for the board of visitors and the administration. Alternatives were proposed, considered, and analyzed to deal with the need to come into compliance with Title IX. Unfortunately, 144 students and 11 coaches are adversely affected by this decision. The primary reason for the decision was to bring JMU into compliance with the law. Any solution that would require the addition of sports beyond the current 28 teams was deemed unacceptable. Although we regret the elimination of these 10 teams, as of July, 2007, the university will continue to manage and support a comprehensive intercollegiate athletic program of 18 sports.

Institutions may demonstrate compliance with Title IX by satisfying one of three "prongs" delineated by the Office of Civil Rights. The first test requires the university to demonstrate that its ratio of male to female students is mirrored in its ratio of male to female athletes. The second test requires the university to "demonstrate a history and continued practice of program expansion for the underrepresented sex." The third test requires the university to "fully and effectively accommodate the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex."

It was the judgment of the administration and the board of visitors that the institution could not/would not satisfactorily meet the second or third test. The university could not demonstrate a history or continued pattern of program expansion to accommodate the needs of the under-represented gender, having added only one women's sport since 1990. And, while a survey is one tool to determine interest, we are already aware of student interest in varsity status, which the Office of Civil Rights has indicated is a sufficient indicator of un-met interest. Given its commitment to not add sports and its desire to be in compliance with Title IX, the university was left with the need to comply with the proportionality prong.

Three of the sports that will be eliminated as varsity sports were women's teams. In addition to achieving compliance with Title IX, sustainability of the existing teams was an issue that had to be addressed by the university. None of the eliminated women's teams are conference sports. JMU is one of only 2 Division I schools in the country that has a varsity archery team. In addition, the NCAA does not sponsor a national championship in archery. The fencing team has faced difficulty maintaining enough participants to qualify for NCAA competition, and has had 4 coaches in the past 5 years. Only one other state institution in the Commonwealth has a varsity gymnastics team, so the majority of competitions are outside the conference and the state. These issues made continuation of archery, fencing and gymnastics as varsity sports unrealistic.

It has been suggested that the implications of the board's decision would be that only 6 scholarships are available for men's tennis, soccer, baseball and golf. This is not accurate. Proportionality of scholarship dollars is calculated relative to roster size and headcount, not relative to opportunities for participation. Teams must meet roster numbers to compete, and they cannot exceed scholarship numbers set by the NCAA.

The $550,000 previously allocated to the eliminated sports will be used to fully fund the remaining women's sports and to partially fund the men's golf and tennis teams. This means that men's tennis and golf scholarships will actually increase, and men's soccer and baseball will remain unchanged.

While some student-athletes may choose to transfer to another institution, those students who are interested will have the opportunity to continue their athletic endeavors at the club level. In some cases, clubs already exist that are associated with a particular sport. In other cases, we encourage the creation of such a club. The Athletic Department has recommended that the university provide funding to the associated clubs over the next three years to facilitate the transition to club status.

Again, while the board and the administration regret that this difficult decision had to be made, the information available to us indicated that this was the most viable alternative for the continuation of the Athletics program at JMU.