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Rutgers Athletics: Scholarships, Title IX, and Rutgers Olympic Sports

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Well, we've got about $300 million in construction to do. Then add about a million in cost of attendance to plug in. Holy bankroll, Batman, we are in deep doo doo.


Last in a series

It was at the end of the 2006-07 school year that Rutgers eliminated six sports in an effort to save money in a period of budget crisis and the need for austerity.  The decision seemed to have been made almost exclusively by then-athletic director Bob Mulcahy.  Meetings, presentations, and literal begging to save the sports by a host of alumni, athletes, and parents fell on deaf ears.  Even legislative resolutions went unheeded. The sports were gone.

Ironically, 17 months later, so was the man who made the call.  In December of 2008, Bob Mulcahy was fired....or forced to resign....because of a lot of things, like:

hundreds of thousands of dollars in off-the-books spending that never appeared in the Rutgers budget, secret contract enhancements given to head football coach Greg Schiano and a no-bid contract with a sports marketing firm hired after it put Mulcahy's son on its payroll.

Like him or hate him, Bob Mulcahy built up football and cut six Olympic sports.  That's a fact.  The damage was done, so where does that leave us today?

Scholarships: Losing the numbers battle?

A recent comment asked an interesting question:

a fan at one of the recent NJ events

was told by someone in the AD that RU is currently $6 million short of athletic scholarships or roughly 120 players down compared to our fully funded conference foes. How can we compete with such a handicap?

by WestCoast_RU on May 31, 2015

For starters, the NCAA limits how many scholarships any sport is allowed.  When someone says that got a "full ride", they're probably playing football or basketball. With the NCAA limits, most athletes are getting something towards their education and attendance, but few are getting everything paid for. For example, baseball may have a squad of 35 players.  The NCAA limits baseball to 11.7 scholarships. In 2013-14, Rutgers' only year in the AAC and using the most recent data available, Rutgers allocated 11.11 scholarships, divvied up among 23 athletes in baseball. That was pretty representative for the Olympic sports.  Look at the rest of the men's sports, what they''re allowed and what RU gave out in 2013-14:

Men’s Roster Number Allowed Scholarships 2013-14 Rutgers scholarships 2013-14 Number receiving aid
Baseball 35 11.7 11.11 23
Basketball 15 13 11.5 12
Football 82 – pre ’15 class 85 81.57 97
Golf 9 4.5 3.28 7
Lacrosse 47 12.6 10.3 33
Soccer 23 9.9 9.83 19
XC/Track & Field 51 12.6 11.22 27
Wrestling 31 9.9 8.21 21
Total 293
159.2 147.02 239

On the men's side, Rutgers is down 12.18 scholarships from what it is permitted.  For the sake of argument and making life a bit easier, let's use the 2013-14 In State cost of a full grant-in-aid, $26,238.  Multiply that by the 147.02 scholarships, and the men cost RU $ 3,857,510.76 in scholarships.  And on the women's side, it looked like this:

Women’s Roster Number Allowed Scholarships 2013-14 Rutgers scholarships 2013-14 Number receiving aid
Basketball 14 15 10 10
Field Hockey 21 12 11.47 18
Golf 8 6 3.86 7
Gymnastics 18 12 9.44 11
Lacrosse 30 12 11.48 21
Rowing 46 20 10.86 27
Soccer 31 14 13.86 22
Softball 18 12 11.65 18
Swimming & Diving 21 14 13.23 20
Tennis 8 8 6.86 8
XC/Track & Field 44 18 17.21 32
Volleyball 13 12 11.08 13
Total 272 155 131 207

Using the same process, there were 131 scholarships at $26,238, for a total of $ 3,437,178.  That's $ 7,294,688.76 in scholarship aid given out.  If we could afford it, Rutgers was allowed 314.02 (we gave 278.02) which would have cost $ 8,239,256.76.  So Rutgers was down 36 scholarships, not 120, and the difference would have cost another $944,568.  Not quite the dire figures cited, but still a big chunk of change.  And the fact remains that Rutgers is not giving out as many scholarships as allowed nor as many as our peers even in the individual sports..

About those peer institutions....

As an example, ttfp is fully funded for all of its sports, and they are operating 31, the third most among FBS schools. From the press release on their FY 2013-14 NCAA Report:

Penn State has one of the nation's most broad-based and successful athletic programs....[with 31 sports] that are fully funded at the NCAA maximum scholarship levels

In 2012-13, the most recent NCAA financial report available for ttfp, they provided 384.86 scholarships, at a cost of around $ 8.4 million. That's a bit more than 70 additional scholarships over Rutgers' number.

So, what if Rutgers wanted to restore men's swimming and diving?  What would that cost?  Go to the last expense report available for the women's team (2013-14 in the AAC) and use that for the men:  $1.084 million.  But you'd have 4.1 fewer scholarships for the men (- $107,000).  You're still talking around $1 million to run swimming.

Title IX: Friend or foe?

It's pretty common rhetoric to trot out Title IX whenever cuts need to be made.  Title IX is the 1972 federal law that was intended to end discrimination based on sex at institutions receiving federal aid.

"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

Most people are aware of the law due to its impact on college athletics.  And it does so in three primary areas:

Athletics programs are considered educational programs and activities. There are three basic parts of Title IX as it applies to athletics:

  1. Participation: Title IX requires that women and men be provided equitable opportunities to participate in sports. Title IX does not require institutions to offer identical sports but an equal opportunity to play;
  2. Scholarships: Title IX requires that female and male student-athletes receive athletics scholarship dollars proportional to their participation; and
  3. Other benefits: Title IX requires the equal treatment of female and male student-athletes in the provisions of: (a) equipment and supplies; (b) scheduling of games and practice times; (c) travel and daily allowance/per diem; (d) access to tutoring; (e) coaching, (f) locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities; (g) medical and training facilities and services; (h) housing and dining facilities and services; (i) publicity and promotions; (j) support services and (k) recruitment of student-athletes.

It appears fairly benign, offering opportunities for men and women to participate on an equal footing.  But just look at some of the titles of articles that have been written about the law over the recent past:

One of the more drastic steps taken by a university in this area was in 2006, when James Madison University cut ten sports, doing so to bring about gender balance.  The law never said that sports should be eliminated in order to do this.  In fact, the spirit of the law was to expand opportunities.  However, as costs have increased, many schools have found the easiest way to bring about the equity called for in the law is to cut men's sports.  A prime example of this is wrestling.  More than 450 wrestling teams have vanished since 1972, with only 328 remaining. The National Wrestling Coaches Association brought suit against the U.S. Department of Education, challenging Title IX.  The lawsuit eventually was dismissed.

The cuts to sports at Rutgers in 2006 hinted at Title IX and equity, but the cuts were premised on a budget crisis.  Could Rutgers bring those sports back without violating Title IX and still be in compliance?

In order to comply with Title IX, a school must meet all of the following requirements in order to be in compliance:

  1. For participation requirements, institutions officials must meet one of the following three tests. An institution may:
    1. Provide participation opportunities for women and men that are substantially proportionate to their respective rates of enrollment of full-time undergraduate students;
    2. Demonstrate a history and continuing practice of program expansion for the underrepresented sex;
    3. Fully and effectively accommodate the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex; and,
  2. Female and male student-athletes must receive athletics scholarship dollars proportional to their participation; and,
  3. Equal treatment of female and male student-athletes in the eleven provisions as mentioned above.

Rutgers has around 565 athletes.  The NCAA report from which we take these numbers, had Rutgers New Brunswick attendance at 15,908 men and 15,722 women.  50.3% to 49.7%.  Can't get much closer than that.  And that means that there should be about 50% of the athletic opportunities allocated to each sex.  Look at the tables above; there's a difference of about 16 scholarships.  That's about a 5.6% difference and supposedly it must be within two percent.  But if you look at roster spots, it's only about 3.6%. But proportionality is not the only means to satisfy Title IX, and there is no set number to achieve he goal of equity.

One of the issues, of course, is that the percentage of male to female students varies from year to year.  As mentioned above, in 2013-14 it was practically a 50-50 split. In 2012-13 it was 51.4:48.6, male:female, and in 2011-12 it was 51.5:48.5.

Of course, there is also the elephant in the room, the thing that jumps out and the thing that creates the most friction: Football.  Take out those 85 scholarships, say Title IX opponents, and we have no problem.  Take out the frills and excesses of football, say proponents, and there's nothing to argue about.

What's next?

At some point, the B1G money will be more prevalent and many of the issues facing Rutgers will subside.  Getting to full allocations of scholarships would seem to be the most pressing goal...along with building a basketball practice facility.

Reinstating sports that were cut in 2007, the focus of this series, seems a back-burner issue for the Athletics Department, although there are supporters in those sports who have strong feelings about it, and they will not give up easily.  Again, additional B1G money could make some of it possible, but the issue of Title IX and the upcoming expenses for new construction could also dampen the push.  And if you reinstated the lost sports - almost all male teams - or added, say, ice hockey, what new women's sports could you add?  Rutgers runs every women's sport that the Big Ten sponsors.  Could it bring back fencing?  That maxes out at 4.5 scholarships and there are only 23 D1 women's teams in the nation, with three in New Jersey (FDU, NJIT, Princeton).  ttfp ran its women's fencing program for around $260,000.

We talked about adding ice hockey.  It wouldn't be cheap.  In 2012-13, the two ice hockey teams at ttfp cost the school around $ 2.2 million to operate.  Add a couple of years of inflationary costs and that is probably upwards of $ 2.4-2.5 million.  And there's that issue of no arena.

But why are we doing any of this any way?  As Chuck Warner, the former RU Swim Coach said, athletics is about a "specialized education", an "altruistic effort of education" and the "human connections to sport", the things you find in the non-revenue sports. And, interestingly, Julie Hermann's former volleyball coach at Nebraska, Terry Pettit,  has a valid rationale for trying to "be all things to all people":

The best justification that I can find for the amount of money that we spend on intercollegiate athletics is to come back to my original premise: if a university education is where we go to learn how to learn, then an athletic department can be a laboratory for that endeavor. Intercollegiate athletics can be not only a cauldron where we learn about ourselves, but where we learn to take responsibility for our own development, where we learn the principals of leadership and teambuilding, and where we learn how to take action based on those principals [sic].

Previous stories in this series

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