The Downside to Title IX
Although the benefits Title IX provided for women’s athletics has remarkably changed the landscape of sports, Title IX has arguably had negative repercussions on the men’s program.
In 1974, the University funded seven men’s sports (football, basketball, track and field, baseball, cross-country, gymnastics, and wrestling). The men also had three unfunded sports (golf, tennis, and swimming). Unfunded sports were charged with generating own funds for scholarships and operating budget, while the Athletic Department covered coaches’ salaries, support staff costs, transportation (vans), and insurance commitments. Thirty years later, the men’s offerings consist of seven fully funded teams and numerous club sports. During the last two decades, as women’s athletics added new sports, such as golf, soccer, and lacrosse, the men’s program decreased its offerings.
Title IX and inflation inevitably hindered the growth of the men’s program particularly during the early 1980s, as Oregon scrambled for solutions to the athletic department budget crises. Although Title IX mandates helped bring the intercollegiate athletic offerings up to 20 sports (10 for women; 10 for men) in the 1970s, the athletic department had operated with a deficit for seven of the 11 years (1970-1981).
After numerous discussions during the 1980-81 academic term, Rick Bay, athletic director at the time, and Paul Olum, acting president of the University, made the decision to cut men’s gymnastics and baseball and women’s soccer and golf. Although none of the sports were major strains on the budget individually, the elimination of the four teams together cut $945,803 out of the $4.4 million 1981-1982 budget.
Success and Support Fell Short
Unfortunately, the men’s gymnastics team’s past success was not enough to keep the squad. Despite having garnered third-place honors in the nation during the 1979-1980 year, with participation rates decreasing throughout the region, men’s gymnastics suffered elimination.
Although not quite as successful as the gymnastics team, the baseball team had a loyal support group fighting to keep the team on the field. The advocate group raised funds to keep the sport alive, however, the drive fell short. Baseball did re-enter the playing field in 1983 as a club sport in the University system.
- The University of Oregon was not the only institution in the region forced to eliminate sports. Oregon State University cut its entire men and women’s track and field program in 1988.
- In 1988, Oregon voters rejected (by a ratio of almost 2 to 1) a ballot measure that would have raised an estimated $9 million a year for athletics through a tax on beer and cigarettes.