The New York Times printed the results of an investigation Tuesday on the myriad of schools gaming the Title IX requirements in various ways. The centerpiece of the article is the South Florida women's country team, which had a roster of 71 (!) women in 2009. Only 28 competed in a race, and one runner interviewed was kept on the roster after quitting and returning her scholarship and given free shoes and advantages in class registration in return. Apparently lots of schools pad their track rosters, because the athletes can be counted as participants in three sports. greatly upping their female athlete totals. (USF for the record denies this, but didn't make their track coach available for interviews.)
Duke is mentioned as one of the schools that uses another common loophole that allows men who practice with the women's team to be counted as female athletes. Texas A&M, who does something similar reported a roster of 32 women's basketball players, 14 of who are men. I have no idea how the rules even allow you to have 32 players on a roster – if Roy Williams tried to more than double the size of his team, I think the NCAA would complain – but apparently once you leave the spotlight of football and men's basketball, roster sizes explode. West Virginia has a women's rowing team of 74, although you'd be hard-pressed to find mention of more than a third of them on the rosters that aren't sent to compliance offices.
Title IX has done wonders for women's athletics, but it's getting squeezed by two trends. The first is the increasing proportion of women enrolled at most universities, and is topping 60% in many places. Title IX compliance in part consists of having a female-to-male athlete ratio similar to that of the overall student body, and that standard is getting harder to meet unless you're say, Georgia Tech. The second is the elephant in the room, college football. Not only does football often fund the entire athletic department out of it's profits – although not as many schools are in the black there as you might think – but gridiron rosters are also expanding, up on average from 95 30 years ago to 111 today.
All this leaves athletic departments in a bind, and I have no solution for them. A lot of minor men's sports are being eliminated – wrestling is almost an endangered species – and I hate to see any athlete not get the chance to play their sport. But I'm afraid any modification to loosen the regulations won't bring those sports back either. Instead the extra resources will just flow back to football, because that's where the money is. The temptation is growing to just decouple football from either Title IX or universities altogether. There's no easy solution to this, but I'm open to suggestions. In the meantime, at least I get another joke at Duke's expense.