The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating whether Temple University is providing equal athletic opportunity for its women students. The Title Nine inquiry comes after the university’s decision to cut seven sports.
There’s been great outcry from students and student athletes about the plan to cut the sports programs.
Ellen Staurowsky, a professor in Drexel University’s Center for Hospitality and Sport Management, said the sports cuts are sparking lots of discussion.
“The public should be raising questions about what kind of athletic program should be publicly funded, what kind of program can we expect moving forward into the future?” she said.
Temple’s decision has brought added focus to the question of what a college or university athletic department is all about.
“Is it about providing opportunities for athletes to play in a wide range of opportunities or is it really more focused on corporate sport and sports that are televised? ” Staurowsky said. “And I think that those two competing interests come to a head in this particular case.”
Temple officials have defended the decision to cut seven varsity sports next year, including baseball, softball, and men and women’s rowing, saying the move is necessary to save money and to address a gender gap in its distribution of scholarship money.
In a note sent to the university’s board of trustees, Temple President Neil Theobald wrote:
Yesterday, I received notification from the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights that they are investigating whether “the University is failing to provide equal athletic opportunity for female athletes compared to male athletes, with regard to Locker Rooms, Practice and Competitive Facilities, Housing and Dining Facilities and Services, and in the area of Athletic Financial Assistance.” This letter was not unexpected. As you know, Temple has spent the last year analyzing our program. On the basis of this analysis, in December, you approved our recommendation that we convert baseball, indoor track & field, outdoor track & field, and men’s gymnastics to club sports. At that time, due to inappropriate or distant facilities, you approved our recommendation to convert men’s crew, softball, and women’s rowing to club sports.
Theobald promised to keep the trustees updated on the investigation as it proceeds.