“While tennis, gymnastics and wrestling participation have waned, lacrosse and soccer have increased in recent years for both genders.”
NEW YORK (AP) — College sports spending at Division I schools has increased 7 percent annually since the mid-1990s, an amount that has limited the expansion opportunities for sports other than football and basketball.
The findings were detailed in the report “Who’s Playing College Sports? Money, Race and Gender” by professor John Cheslock of the University of Arizona and released by the Women’s Sports Foundation on Wednesday.
The report indicated the 7 percent annual growth from 1995 to 2005 increased spending by $8.2 million per school over that period, with football outlays increasing by approximately $2.5 million per team and women’s sports other than basketball rising by only $135,000 per team.
“Athletic expenditures are increasing at a rate that complicates any efforts to increase or even maintain athletic participation opportunities,” said Cheslock, who studied 625 schools from 1995 to 2004, with Division II and III schools also posting a growth rate near 7 percent.
The report also indicated data from the NCAA and Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act shows men’s participation increased 6 percent in all divisions between 1995 and 2005 and women’s participation increased 20 percent.
Cheslock argued that universities have responded to Title IX by increasing women’s participation in sports rather than decreasing men’s participation.
He noted that from 1992 to 2001, the period when Title IX was most vigorously enforced, women’s participation increased annually by 4.5 percent and men’s participation increased by 0.3 percent in all divisions. From 2001 to 2005, the increases were 2.5 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.
“You see increases in participation growth for women but you don’t see substantial changes for men,” Cheslock said. “That’s why I claim the evidence suggests that most schools have responded to the increased enforcement of Title IX by stepping up their women’s participation rather than drastically reducing their men’s participation.”
To comply with Title IX, a school can show proportionality of female athletes to female students on campus; or a history of increasing sports for women; or prove it has met the interest and ability of the underrepresented group.
Cheslock noted that the number of wrestling teams fell by 36 between 1985 and 1988, one of the largest three-year declines, when athletic programs were exempt from Title IX.
While tennis, gymnastics and wrestling participation have waned, lacrosse and soccer have increased in recent years for both genders.
The report suggests trends in sports participation involve a number of factors, including enrollment strategies that consider academics and diversity.
“Athletic directors and college presidents will be more likely to sponsor sports whose high school participation numbers are increasing,” Cheslock said, “sports with low injury rates which result in lower health care and insurance costs, and sports that do not require the school to rely heavily on international athletes in order to remain competitive.”
Dr. Marj Snyder, chief planning and program officer of the Women’s Sports Foundation, said fiscal responsibility from athletic directors is key to providing balanced opportunities.
“(Title IX) has become sort of an easy whipping boy,” Snyder said. “It’s a lot easier to blame Title IX than it is to tell your football and men’s basketball coach to do a little cost control.
“We would be much better served if we could figure out for the wrestlers and baseball players and men’s gymnastics to work together with women to apply greater pressure on the system so that we don’t have escalating costs like we do at this 7 percent annual rate, which is completely unsustainable.”
The greatest gains in racial diversity occurred in the years following the passage of Title IX in 1972, according to the report. Nearly 68 percent of black female athletes participate in basketball and track and field, with those numbers unchanged from 1999 to 2006.
Snyder suggests encouraging grass roots participation in a variety of sports and adding sports that already include diverse groups.
The Women’s Sports Foundation also recommended better enforcement of Title IX by the Office of Civil Rights and rescinding of the March 2005 clarification policy that puts the burden of proving interest in sports on female students.
Snyder called for the NCAA to enlist certification and self-evaluation requirements so schools can be monitored for Title IX compliance.
“There should be some penalty, like not being able to compete in tournaments,” she said.
Congress should grant the NCAA a limited antitrust exemption to restrain athletic spending, Snyder said.
“The NCAA currently would not have the ability to enforce a lot of requirements that would restrict growth,” she said. “They just don’t have the authority to do it. We need Congress to step in and give them a little bit of that authority.”
Cheslock said when he read transcripts of governmental hearings on Title IX during his research, there was a recurring theme.
“Everyone just spends all their time arguing, ‘How has participation changed?'” he said. “Countless time has been spent debating this question. To me, as an academic, the data are clear on this issue.
“Let’s move past this issue and figure out what else to do about intercollegiate athletics.”