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Three years to comply

HSU has 3-year grace period after football cut to meet Title IX requirements

With the effects of Title IX looming after the cut of football at Humboldt State, many fear the impact on women’s sports while others look forward to it’s advancement.

HSU Crew member Bailey Cochran sees it as an opportunity to make women’s sports more competitive.

“It might change the team to be more focused on being competitive and being successful,” Cochran said.

HSU President Lisa Rossbacher’s decision to cut football on July 17 was due to budgeting concerns. The fight to keep the team started during the 2017 fall semester when Rossbacher announced the team would stay for another season as long as the community could put up the $500,000 that the University would match.

The amount of money raised was cut short by $171,000, leading Rossbacher to announce the discontinuation of the football program.

“It’s football that’s at risk,” Interim Athletic Director Duncan Robbins said, “not any other sports.”

Title IX is part of a federal law that was passed in 1972 to allow for equal opportunities for men and women on college campuses. It’s broad in scope and is often used to open opportunities in athletics.

Title IX requires that each university allow for equal opportunity in different ways. The number of athletes required to stay in compliance is directly related to the ratio of men to women on campus. It also encompasses dollars spent for gear and scholarships.

With over 90 male athletes cut from the 2017 football roster, the fate of women’s sports at HSU has left some wonder about the future. Robins doesn’t mince words.

“We’ve been trending more and more women dominated on this campus over time compared to years ago,” Robins said. “We have to try to keep up with that as an athletic department.”

HSU’s campus currently has a ratio of about 47 percent male to 53 percent female. Because of that, the school needs more women athletes to stay in compliance with Title IX, which means the risk to women’s sports is lower. This means that sports teams with large rosters won’t be dramatically impacted.

The Jacks women’s crew team competed at the Blue Heron Redwood Sprints Regatta on March 24. | Photo by Robert Cranfill.

Women’s sports have three extra teams with no male counterpart. They are softball, volleyball, and crew. At the moment, there is no foreseeable way to add more male teams because of budgeting concerns.

“Every time we add a sport, we add cost and we don’t have the money,” Robins said.

Track and field is a dual gender sport, and because there are more men than women on our HSU track team, Robins does not believe it will be a huge problem complying with Title IX.

“Turns out that there are a lot of young men who want to run and throw in college,” Robins said, “so we think we’ll have an easier time than in other places.”

Jamey Harris, the head distance coach, a subcategory of the track team, said that women in the sport aren’t in immediate danger of being cut. He said they will still be recruiting women as well as men to grow the roster as a whole.

Harris said the football teams termination won’t have “a huge impact, just a few more guys each year won’t be cut.”

“At this point we turn away any male student athletes that are just not at the level that they need to be to be competitive right away,” Harris said.

However, more men will now have the opportunity to be trained up and compete at the college level.

In fact, being able to grow the roster on both sides will be advantageous to the track team as a whole. With 21 events and only 40 athletes on each team, the track team may benefit from the effects of Title IX.

“Adding more athletes gives us more event coverage,” Harris said.

Robins said that no change is easy in university level sports, but said HSU has excelled at balancing the roster numbers.

“We’ve done a very good job at giving opportunities to women’s athletes,” Robins said. “On a typical roster size they might not have been given that opportunity.”

Cochran, a junior and three year crew member, is a recipient of those opportunities. She had never considered crew as an option in college until she was handed a flyer and joined with a few other young women.

She sees this as a growing opportunity for the crew team to take their competition to the next level. She thinks this may give the crew team the edge to be able to focus on specifics rather than training people up who have never been in athletics before.

“We have so many people that it’s not necessarily all focused in on the people who want to get to championships right now,” Cochran said.

Cochran does admit that taking away opportunities for women who have never competed before is a reality.

“It’s a give and a take,” Cochran said, “depending on what aspect you’re looking at.”

Tyla Turner (#12) floats between Cal State East Bay defenders Kayla Blair (#21) and Savannah McGill (#32) for the layup. | Photo by Zac Sibek.

Students entering sports now as freshman don’t have much change to worry about. Schools are given a three-year period to come back into compliance after a major shift, such as the football roster cut.

Robins said that this helps cycle through the current athletes so it doesn’t affect their graduation.

“Every student athlete that comes in will want to know what their life is going to look like for the next four to five years,” Robins said.

But after the abrupt dismissal of football, athletes may be left feeling uncertain. Cochran just wants open communication between administration and the student athletes.

“I hope they don’t pull the same thing on us where we don’t expect that to happen,” Cochran said. “But then it does.”

 

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