Monday, June 06, 2005


Lady Vols go down

The great run through the Women's College World Series is over for the Lady Vols as they fell to Michigan 3-2 this afternoon. Considering that this team returns everyone next year, I am sure that this won't be the last time we hear from this great group of young ladies.

On another note dealing with intercollegiate athletics, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear National Wrestling Coaches Association v. Dept. of Education, a case dealing with the legality of Title IX, the 1972 law that, amongst other things, requires that all public and private universities keep scholarship numbers proportionate between the genders. This denial of certiorari is not making headlines since there is the opportunity to talk about illegal drugs in an opinion today (check out SCOTUSblog - I count 13 distinct posts dealing with Gonzales v. Raich), but it is significant. I have long been against Title IX for several reasons, not the least of which is that it results in the Congress and the courts (who have expanded the scope of Title IX like an obese man's expandable pants at Golden Corral) dictating to educational institutions (including private schools) as to how they must run their athletics programs, often resulting in certain men's teams (such as wrestling, track and field, tennis, and, in some cases, football) being disbanded altogether. Title IX was a great experiment, and it resulted in the recognition of women's athletics throughout the country. So, yes, I do recognize the good that came from Title IX, even if I disagree with the methods. However, little good is coming from it now, and simple economics is the main factor. For instance, The University of Tennessee's women's athletic programs - including national powers in women's basketball, softball, track, and swimming - would not exist without a payout from the men's program that covers a substantial portion (last I heard it was in the $8 million range) of the women's budget. Schools that don't have the financial resources (i.e. - top-tier football team) to cover the losses posted by their women's teams end up dropping sports, which interferes with tradition, student-athletes, and ultimately a significant portion of the student body.

However, I agree with today's decision not to take this case. My reason for such is, despite their best intentions, the National Wrestling Coaches Association sued the wrong defendant. As the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit correctly ruled, the plaintiffs should have sued individual schools that had cut athletic teams from their programs. I suppose that it's back to the drawing board for the NWCA, which is probably how SCOTUS prefers it. Despite their protests to the contrary, this Court doesn't like stepping in on especially contentious matters (abortion, gun rights, sex discrimination, Establishment Clause cases).

(Hat tip to my friend Jason Oraker, who wrote a fantastic column about Title IX a few years back in the Yale Daily News. I would link to that column, but the Yale newspaper's site is not operating. If the computer geeks at Yale fix their site, I will be sure to link to the column.)

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