University of Delaware men’s track team claims it only wants what is fair

The captain of the men’s track team at the University of Delaware says the University should not be replacing his sport with women’s golf. But Corey Wall says the team’s fight to save the sport is not a battle with golf or the University of Delaware.

The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) inside the U.S. Department of Education will investigate the track team’s complaint that the school violated Title IX rules when it decided it would eliminate the cross-country and spring outdoor track teams.

The letter, which was received Wednesday states: “If OCR determines that a recipient failed to comply with one of the civil rights laws that OCR enforces, OCR will contact the recipient and will attempt to secure the recipient’s willingness to negotiate a voluntary resolution agreement.” It goes on to say: “OCR will monitor the recipient’s implementation of the terms of the resolution…were resolved consistent with applicable civil rights laws.”

Wall says he and his team feel vindicated that the OCR is willing to take up their case. He was told there are three possible outcomes. The Civil Rights division could rule there were no violations. The University could go to the track team and work out some kind of settlement or the University can work directly with the OCR to come to an agreement.

Title IX is usually applied in the cases of equal representation of women’s sports. Wall said if you look at the make up of the track team with its 40 members, “it closely represents the student male to female ratios of the University”. He insists the team initiated the complaint because they felt they were being discriminated against. Even though he feels “there’s so little interest in women’s golf” he does not want to make this an either or situation with the sport that the University will introduce in this coming fall semester. In fact, Wall says he’s a big golf fan. His grandfather is Art Wall, Jr. He won the 1959 Masters tournament.

The University of Delaware did put out a statement Friday by John Brennan, Director, UD Office of Communications & Marketing:  “The US Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights is responsible for enforcing Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. As a recipient of Federal financial assistance, the University of Delaware is subject to Title IX and its implementing regulations. The University is complying fully with a request from the US Department of Education for information regarding UD’s intercollegiate athletics program. The University stands by its decision made in January to reclassify varsity men’s cross country and track and field as club sports in order to provide equitable and substantially proportionate participation opportunities for UD men and women. This decision was made after an in-depth study to determine the optimal combination of sport offerings that would provide quality opportunities to UD student-athletes while exercising fiscal responsibility and remaining in compliance with Title IX.”

The statement also said that University President Patrick Harker and Athletic Director Bernard Muir would not comment further.

In January, Muir had put out a statement: “After weighing several possibilities, we concluded that this plan is our most viable. We found ourselves facing two options: Either we had to continue the periodic expansion of programming for women in order to be responsive to their interest and ability, or adjust the current offerings to provide equitable and substantially proportionate participation opportunities for our men and women.”

Wall counters there are inequities in other University sports and those should be addressed instead of eliminating the track team.

Wall added the news of the OIC letter has created quite a buzz around the Newark campus and on a website the team and other alumni support to bring attention to the situation.   Wall says the team is focusing on three more meets. They will be competing at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia next weekend. Then they are on to their conference championships at Virginia Commonwealth University and the ICAAAA championships at Princeton.

Wall says about three-quarters of the team are underclassmen. He said the University has agreed to let scholarship recipients keep their scholarships. While he hopes the ultimate outcome is the team remains intact, he did suggest one possible outcome is to phase the team out over the next three years. “Don’t bring in any new members, but let those who chose to run at UD finish up here.”

No word on when a finding will be completed.

 

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