Coach questions athletics equity

by Megan Boldt

Ever since Title IX passed Congress in 1972, numerous conflicts have arisen. Almost 30 years later, debate continues.
Minnesota wrestling Coach J Robinson handed out flyers deemed “anti-Title IX” by some at Sunday night’s wrestling match between the Gophers and Iowa. He said the flyer was not about Title IX, it was about proportionality in athletics.
The goal of Title IX is the prohibition of discrimination in all educational athletic programs, specifically two main areas: opportunities for participation and scholarships, as well as other benefits.
By providing opportunities for participation, colleges and universities must make the number of athletes — male and female — proportionate to the overall undergraduate population.
Robinson distributed the flyer after the University would not publish it in the wrestling program. Wrestlers not participating in the match handed them out to the audience.
“Nobody has a problem with Title IX. It’s like having a problem with the Constitution,” Robinson said.
The problem, he added, is proportionality, which is an interpretation by the Office of Civil Rights.
Proportionality, Robinson continued, has eliminated 20,000 male opportunities in athletics since 1991, while only adding 5,800 female opportunities.
Two other aspects of the law that are admirable — scholarships and equipment/scheduling — are in reality no good, he said.
“The courts don’t look at anything but proportionality,” Robinson said. “If all they enforce is proportionality, what good are the other two benefits?”
Minnesota volleyball coach Mike Hebert said he did not see Robinson’s handout. But, he added, Robinson and others are barking up the wrong tree.
“(Title IX) is one of the most wonderful things that ever happened,” Hebert said. “Who would criticize that? It would be like criticizing the Civil Rights Movement.”
He added that universities cutting men’s programs is not the fault of women’s athletics.
Hebert suggested the University provide more funding for men’s athletics before cutting a program. Or officials could funnel funding from big-revenue sports, such as football, into smaller sports, including women’s sports.
But Robinson countered, saying women’s athletics has already been taking some of the revenue from men’s athletics. Taking more away from those programs is taking away the revenue they deserve, he added.
“We live in a capitalistic society. How much more do they want?” Robinson said.
He said the flyer was just a simple thing he and others wanted to publish to educate people about proportionality and to also get the issue out in the open.

Megan Boldt welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3212.