A Numbers Game: How UNM Moved to Title IX Compliance
Fifty years ago this month, Title IX changed the course for gender equity in education.
And while the past week has highlighted the pioneers and advancements celebrated over the past half-century thanks in large part to landmark legislation, there are also constant reminders that there is still a long way to go before There is real gender equity in college athletics.
As part of the continuation of the Journal’s Title IX series, we wanted to narrow the focus and examine not how far UNM has come in terms of gender equity in athletics since 1972. But it is also needed to see how it has moved toward fair gender equity compliance in the past four years since the release of a 38-page Title IX assessment report that shed light on a athletic department that failed to provide its female athletes with the same opportunities as their male counterparts.
“We are committed to fairness and have been concerned for many months that our athletics program does not comply with federal law,” UNM President Garnett Stokes and Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez co-wrote. in a letter to the campus community on May 18, 2018, when the report was made public.
“…Understanding Title IX compliance can be complicated, but it is clear from the independent review that the University is not meeting federal guidelines.”
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Many concerns have been highlighted in a report that some have criticized as designed to justify the impending sports cuts that came later this summer.
But nothing was more glaring than the disparity in participation between male and female athletes.
Title IX requires a school to provide women with opportunities in athletics at a rate “substantially proportional” to the male-to-female ratio of the general student body.
For the 2016-2017 academic year—the one noted in the Title IX evaluation report—women made up 55.4 percent of UNM’s undergraduate enrollment, but only 43.8 percent of track and field participants. And they represented overall 70 participation places less than their male counterparts. (Opportunities for participation include practice players and athletes with partial scholarships.)
Four years after the report was released and five academic years of data reporting later, women accounted for 53.8% of UNM athletic opportunities in 2021-22. This is thanks to a combination of roster management which has seen the size of some men’s sports rosters reduced and some women’s increased and the removal of sports like men’s football.
In UNM’s latest Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act (EADA) report filed with the Department of Education, the Lobos reported 281 female participants versus 241 males.
Spending is still heavily skewed towards men’s sports at UNM – something common for any university that has a football team. But due to the improved number of participants, UNM is now considered Title IX compliant.
“We want to make sure that no matter what sport you’re in, you’ll get everything we can offer – from academics, to the (financial) help you can get per sport, to extra mental health help. or nutrition or whatever we can do,” Nuñez said. “I want it to be as fair as possible between male and female student-athletes. … Are the numbers as perfect as they need to be No. But we are working on it.
What do the numbers mean
As part of his deep-dive into what he called “the widespread use of roster manipulation” among 107 public universities that compete at the Football Bowl subdivision level, including UNM and the State of New Mexico, USA Today found that “the vast majority” of schools were inflating the numbers. female athletes practicing sports.
According to USA Today’s analysis, such examples of significant list manipulation during EADA’s 2018-2019 reporting year included:
n The University of Wisconsin reported having 165 athletes on its women’s rowing roster and Alabama reported 122, most of whom have never competed;
n The University of Michigan had 29 men who practiced at various times during the season with its women’s basketball team for the number of female appearances. (The Wolverines only had 14 scholarship players that season that counted towards the total number of appearances.)
n The University of Hawaii earned a total of 78 spots on the women’s roster by counting the same athlete two or three times in multiple sports, such as a distance runner who runs cross country, indoor track and field. three-team outdoor athletics. spots as they are considered by the NCAA to be three unique sports.
But while the above examples certainly seem to go against the spirit of Title IX, they are not illegal. In fact, all statements of numbers are how the DOE asks universities to complete their EADA reports.
USA Today reported that UNM and NMSU added more than 50 spots in their EADA reports for 2018-2019, largely on double and triple counting of athletes competing in cross country, indoor track and outer track.
“If they legitimately play two sports, we count them twice, per EADA reporting rules,” said Amy Beggin, UNM’s chief compliance officer and acting chief administrator. “We have (male athletes) in football and track, then some (athletes) who run cross country are also counted in indoor track and outdoor track if they also compete in both.”
Sport-related financial assistance
In 2016-17, male UNM athletes received 62.6% ($4.74 million) in sport-related financial assistance, compared to 37% ($2.83 million) for female athletes.
In 2020-21, male athletes received 58.3% ($4.72 million) versus 41.7% ($3.37 million) for female athletes.
There remains a big gap – a gap that is hard to close when one sport (football) has 85 full scholarship players and no women’s sport has even a fifth of that number of scholarships or equivalents to distribute. But Nuñez points out that progress continues to be made so that participants get at least the maximum possible use of the number of scholarships the NCAA allows them to have, depending on their sport.
“One of the things that we heard around the time I got here, and it was in this report (2018 stock IX valuation), is that we need to make sure we’re maximizing every exchange we have,” Nuñez said. . “So if a team has eight scholarships (donating is allowed), we don’t tell them, ‘Hey, you can only have six.’ At some point here, for some reason, I don’t think we’re maximizing scholarships.
“Now we’re making sure that every student-athlete gets everything we can give them from their experience as Lobo.”
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