Shown the door
Vandy cites Title IX in wiping out men's soccer program
Posted: Wednesday February 1, 2006 11:36AM; Updated: Thursday February 2, 2006 12:50PM
Tim McClements never thought it would end like this. Only months after his team narrowly missed the NCAA tournament, the coach who resurrected the Vanderbilt men's soccer program saw his players with their heads down and tears flowing down their cheeks after he informed them that the university had dissolved their program in the name of Title IX.
As has been the case at many schools across the country, the dissolution of Vanderbilt's men's soccer team was a result of the school's belief that it was out of step with Title IX requirements. However, in Vanderbilt's case, Title IX cannot be legitimately used as an excuse to strip school of one of its most up and coming sports programs.
Compared to other programs, the men's soccer team was poorly funded to say the least. While football and basketball command millions of dollars, the men's soccer budget was a meager $250,000. With Vanderbilt's endowment believed to be more than $2.5 billion, most players were confident that the team would receive increased funding after a landmark season in which it finished 9-7 and nearly qualified for the NCAA tournament.
"I thought it was going to be good news based on our team's performance athletically and academically," said senior captain Brent Richard. "We were actually under the impression that we would be receiving more scholarship funding, so I was expecting good news, and then he said that they had completely dropped the program... I didn't believe him at first. I sat there and thought he was joking."
The administration's decision to drop men's soccer and add women's swimming baffled the players and coaches. Told months after the season, not even McClements, the Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year, knew about the decision until he had to address his players.
This surprising move by Vanderbilt shows a complete misinterpretation of the original intent of Title IX.
In a recent letter to The Vanderbilt Hustler, Dr. Sharon L. Shields, former President of the National Association of Girls and Women in Sport, accuses the administration of being "terrible parents and educational leaders" for deciding to cut men's soccer.
Shields, an expert on Title IX, writes that Vanderbilt did not need to cut the team. She argues that the real need was to address the stagnant athletic budget and an "excess waste of expenses" in other sports programs.
Indeed, Dr. Shields is correct. Vanderbilt has not satisfied the core intent of Title IX. Rather, it succeeded in fostering greater acrimony and division among its male and female athletes.