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Title IX May Cost Miami Four Men's Sports

01/21/1999

OXFORD, Ohio -- Miami University trustees will be asked to eliminate four men's sports--golf, tennis, soccer and wrestling--when the board meets Feb. 6 to consider the university's Title IX dilemma.

In issuing his recommendations today (Jan. 21), Miami President James C. Garland called the decision to recommend the cuts one of the most difficult he has had to make. "The teams involved not only have successful records, but have conducted themselves with integrity, honor and in the finest traditions of Miami athletics," he said.

But he sees no viable alternative to scaling back the number of men's programs if the university is to comply with Title IX's mandate for gender equity in light of the chronic budgetary problems facing intercollegiate athletics at Miami.

"I have no desire to close down sports nor deny future opportunities to male Miami student-athletes," he said. "However, Miami also has an obligation to provide opportunities for female student-athletes."

Current athletes' scholarships would be continued under the plan, even though their teams would be eliminated at the end of the current academic year. In addition, the university will assist coaches whose sport is eliminated in seeking suitable employment.

The fundamental problem, explained Garland, is that Miami has fielded 22 varsity sports in recent years on a budget appropriate to 17-18 teams.

If trustees adopt his recommendation, about $441,000 annually will be saved. That, in combination with an additional $500,000 in revenue from enhanced fund-raising and ticket sales, will enable Miami to deal with a projected million-dollar athletic deficit.

Garland's decision to cut four sports comes after different reviews on campus and a study by a nationally known Title IX consultant. All indicated cuts were needed to address Miami's fiscal and gender equity problems in athletics. In addition to the consultant, the University Committee on Athletic Policy and University Senate have participated in the deliberations as have intercollegiate athletics staff, students, fans and alumni.

Eliminating sports is a "last resort," Garland said, noting that other alternatives, such as increasing the general fee that students pay, all have significant drawbacks.

Garland weighed a number of factors, including NCAA and MAC requirements, student and fan interest, potential for competitiveness and national visibility, program cost, potential for revenue generation and endowment growth, academic success of team members and national/regional considerations before recommending that the four teams be cut.

Trustees will hold a public forum at 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5, to hear public comment on the recommendations. Trustees, who can accept or reject the recommendations, are expected to vote on the Title IX proposal at their business meeting, which begins at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 6.

"Delaying action for a year is a tempting option, but the legal risks, the damage to the athletic program and teams created by continued uncertainty, and the upcoming NCAA certification study make it impractical," Garland said.

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