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SI's model does not designate a financial benchmark that triggers the demotion of a women's team. Deciding what teams to trim would be entirely up to the schools, a daunting challenge that would be fraught with politicking. Schools would also be unable to cut too many women's programs that are designated Tier 1, meaning they are fully funded and thus, for Title IX purposes, match up with Tier 1 men's sports like football and basketball.
Louisville, for example, would have a difficult decision to make with its 67-member women's rowing team, which didn't exist as a varsity sport before 1999. On one hand, the university recently built a $2.65 million rowing center; on the other, the program loses a staggering amount of money ($1,033,700). Every school would face tough choices, and as with the men's cuts, geography and tradition would undoubtedly play a role in which sports were kept. Under SI's model, Louisville and San Jose State would each cut four women's programs, resulting in the following savings:
San Jose State: $1,030,085
Given the uphill battle Title IX advocates have been fighting for decades, the backlash against cuts to women's programs would be severe. But the reductions would mirror those on the men's side. That is not the kind of gender equity that has long been sought, but it is equity nonetheless.
—Oregon's unallocated expenses
When explaining what is wrong with collegiate athletics, Ross favors a simple analogy. "Think of college sports as if it were the airline industry," he says. "Now I would love it if there was a direct flight from State College to San Francisco. But the market does not support that." College athletics, he says, is full of teams that the market doesn't support, "yet universities continue to fund them year after year."
SI's model, at its core, is a market corrector. It shrinks athletic departments by trimming the fat in football and doing away with as many unsupported men's programs as possible. The total estimated savings as a result of that correction would be: