- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Happy 30th birthday, Title IX.

Your proponents sure know how to play the political game.

Opportunity is their Pavlovian-like rallying cry. Tears of gratitude are optional. Hallelujah, Title IX. Peace be with you. You light up America's life with opportunity, however curious the notion that America is a more complete country because of its female rowers and the like.

The opportunity is not always necessary, if women have to be dragged out of the classroom to be intercollegiate rowers.

Title IX is an overcorrection that gains its overdone muscle from the fashionable tenets of the day.

In the world of economics, America has an odd relationship with Title IX.

With a few exceptions, America does not embrace the recipients of Title IX. America does not attend their functions. Most bleed a good amount of red ink, which is considered secondary to the higher purpose, whatever that is.

To be somewhat in compliance with the federal law, the bean counters in the nation's athletic departments are forced to play a kind of shell game.

They move the monies around. They endeavor to balance the number of male and female athletes. They also slash the weak, the men's non-revenue sports. They might add a women's rowing team and eliminate wrestling. It looks good on paper.

Title IX is funny like that. It gives. It also takes. This is the unintended consequence of Title IX, overlooked though it is much of the time.

Title IX comes with a series of asterisks, starting with the premise that schools somehow became involved in the business of athletics to provide opportunities to men.

In fact, schools, no less capitalistic than any other company, immersed themselves in the athletic business to make money and increase their name recognition. A high-profile football team met both goals. Before Knute Rockne, Notre Dame was just another regional school struggling to meet its bills.

Schools that field Division I football programs find it almost impossible to be in compliance with the law because of football's large participatory numbers. Women have no comparable sport, although you never know. Maybe one day the leaders in the Title IX movement will find it important to champion the cause of women's intercollegiate football. That notion, however contrived, complements so much of the discourse.

Title IX fails in part because of its one-size-fits-all nature.

Take the University of Maryland and Georgetown. One is a massive state institution, with considerable resources, the other a private Jesuit institution with an inherently academic mission. One school has a revamped football program and a new basketball arena, the other more modest aims.

Yet Title IX effectively removes these considerations from the equation.

Debbie Yow, Maryland's athletic director, is in a position to put women's basketball on her agenda, to hire an up-and-coming coach in the hope the program can return to its previous excellence and possibly make a buck or two.

Joe Lang, Georgetown's athletic director, is in no such position. He presides over only one flagship program, men's basketball, whose best days were in the '80s. He will be happy when the makeover awaiting McDonough Arena is completed.

Title IX asks no particulars of anyone, just compliance, which has resulted in a de-facto quota system, as noted in a recent lawsuit heard by the Justice Department. The lawsuit was filed by a group of men's coaches, notably those in wrestling. The lawsuit claims that more than 400 men's teams have been eliminated because of Title IX.

Such is life in the slow lane of intercollegiate athletics, ever dependent on how the crumbs from the revenue-producing sports are divided among the have-nots.

This, too, is Title IX in its 30th year, a mixed bag of results at best.

America rarely notices the good and the bad with Title IX, much less the ever-increasing glut of foreigners profiting from this peculiar form of charity.

They are not called non-revenue sports for nothing.

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