Reshaping Tradition for the Future
Title IX undoubtedly spurred major shifts in the athletic lineup at Oregon during the past 45 years. Prior to 1972, Oregon offered only a handful of women’s intercollegiate sports and seven men’s teams. Today Oregon offers nine women’s and seven men’s teams.
Ups and Downs
The growth of Oregon’s sports was inconsistent over the past 25 years. In the women’s program, volleyball started in 1967 and softball ignited shortly thereafter. Track and field and basketball began competing at the interschool level in 1970. Women’s golf entered the playing field in 1972 and cross-country started in 1974. During this period of additions to the women’s program, the men’s program held steady. In 1974, the University funded seven men’s intercollegiate sports: football, basketball, track and field, baseball, cross-country, gymnastics, and wrestling. It also supported, but did not fund, three other men’s sports: swimming, golf, and tennis. The distinction between funded sports and non-funded sports played a role in the next transitions for sports at Oregon. In the next decades the University redirected its inability to fund more intercollegiate teams by encouraging the growth of club sports.
Balancing the Playing Field
By 1980, the University was forced to reevaluate its athletic offerings as major budget deficits created huge problems. Eventually, the Athletic Department decided to cut men’s baseball and gymnastics, as well as women’s golf and soccer. Since then, no other men’s sports have been eliminated or added, while the women’s sport offerings have continued to grow. The University reinstated women’s golf in 1986 and women’s soccer in 1996. Most recently, lacrosse became Oregon’s ninth women’s intercollegiate sport in 2004. The men’s side currently offers seven intercollegiate teams, while numerous club sports continue to gain in popularity.
With Title IX compliance issues restricting the flexibility Oregon has over its athletic offerings, funding will continue to be a factor in the intercollegiate lineup for the men’s and women’s programs. As sports are added to the slate or shifted to club status, the competitive balance will continue to be readjusted on campus, in the Pac-10, and on the national level.