- The Washington Times - Friday, January 31, 2003

The Title IX titans, either for or against, have dusted off all their old arguments again.

You are either for women and against big-time college football, or you are for wrestling and against women, or something like that.

Either way, the reality is another missed layup.

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Women's basketball is the flagship program of Title IX, and what a piece of work it is. It is mostly hapless. It is mostly ignored. It is mostly a waste of time. The one positive is the free education.

It beats having our federal dollars spent on the education of a tall foreigner.

That is another debate, and difficult to resist.

The multicultural extremists suggest it is a beautiful thing, educating another tall guy with 10 vowels in his name, because there are no real differences in people, but, my, look at the differences and celebrate them and be proud of them.

This is not to take exception to Belarus Pride Day, if there is one, or any other day built on pride, even if it is merely Receding Hairline Pride Day, because people need to feel proud of themselves, and we can all rejoice in their pride and feel proud ourselves.

But here's the thing: You take care of your own first, and nothing against a guy with 10 vowels in his name. If you must know, the foreign invasion at the collegiate level is hardly reciprocal. They don't recruit our athletic teens, because their institutions of higher learning do not major in sports. Here's the kicker: Their pro basketball leagues even impose a quota on the number of Americans in their employ, the quota often being one American a team. In the name of Dirk Nowitzki, how do you like that?

So if American universities are inclined to flush scholarship monies down a black hole, American women who don't know how to run a defender off a screen deserve the excess before a foreigner.

There are competent players in women's basketball. There are just not many of them, and certainly not enough to fill the rosters of the 300-plus Division I programs.

Can we be honest for a moment? All too many athletic directors find women's basketball to be about as useful as the teats on a boar. Their interest in the sport does not extend beyond the scholarship numbers and trying to comply with Title IX.

This lack of interest often shows up in areas beyond the reach of Title IX, in equipment, travel budgets, locker room facilities and the quality of the coaching staff. The rationale is plausible, which is: Why invest in something that loses lots of money?

Athletic department heads rarely think in this fashion with the men's basketball program, because it will show up on the court, and the alumni will notice, members of the media will report on it, and who wants that headache?

You cannot get away with hiring the meat-packing guy from the local grocery store to coach your men's team, as you can with the women's team. Other than a few homeless people trying to stay out of the cold, no one is going to notice if the meat-packing guy has neglected to remove his bloody apron for the game. Do you care about the high number of Peter Principle-types in women's basketball, ostensibly there to teach basketball and possibly a few other things? Of course not. The women are getting a free education out of it. What the heck?

Then again, if you are obligated to do something, shouldn't you be attempting to do it right? Where's the pride? There's that pride thing again.

Perhaps the deep thinkers on Capitol Hill should have focused on proposing a national holiday for Title IX and called it a landmark occasion.

Otherwise, it is impolite to mention the law's most accursed flaw, which is: All too many of the beneficiaries of Title IX have become second-class athletic citizens of a different sort.

The first clue in determining the level of commitment to Title IX by athletic department heads is easy. Until there is a purging of roughly 200 to 250 Division I head coaches, all of them dumped en masse after the women's basketball season, those in charge are paying lip service to the issue.

Let this space be the first to wish the hacks all the best in their new careers as junior high teachers and house-league coaches, or as the paper/plastic person at the grocery store.

Until then, the latest stuff with Title IX is just noise.

It is hard to take any of it seriously if the ones overseeing it are not serious.

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