It’s gettin’ heated at JMU:

“Title IX was created in 1972 to prevent sex discrimination, and it was needed,” Jennifer Chapman, a senior on the women’s cross-country team, which is not being eliminated, said four days later as she led a protest rally of 400 students on campus. “But look what’s happening now. We rode the bus home from Pennsylvania for four hours, 14 guys and 19 girls all crying together. How is that supposed to have been Title IX’s intent?”

Across this placid campus in the Shenandoah Valley this week, the quads, walkways and classrooms have been filled with similar questions, many of them posed by a surprising number of female students denouncing Title IX.

“It was a difficult thing to do, but we were out of compliance with the law,” said James Madison’s president, Dr. Linwood Rose. “Part of our mission statement talks about a community of educated and enlightened citizens. I don’t know how you create a model for citizenship if you are blatantly in violation of the law.”

But what made the actions at James Madison stand out most in a national trend transforming men’s and women’s college sports was the sweeping and voluntary nature of the university’s decision. The slashing of James Madison’s large athletic department in the name of Title IX adherence was startling in scale, unforeseen because it was enacted in the absence of a lawsuit or complaint and especially uncommon because the university chose the most onerous route to fully adhere to the strictest federal gender-equity standards.

James Madison’s student body of 17,000 is 61 percent female, and one provision for complying with Title IX instructs institutions to have the percentage of participating athletes match the ratio of men to women on campus. At James Madison, the elimination of seven men’s sports (swimming, cross country, indoor and outdoor track, gymnastics, wrestling and archery) and three women’s sports (gymnastics, fencing and archery) will boost the proportion of female athletes to 61 percent from about 50 percent.

When the cuts take effect in July, James Madison will be left with 12 women’s sports and 6 men’s sports, the minimum required to participate in N.C.A.A. Division I competition. Three full-time coaches and eight part-time coaches will lose their jobs, and 144 athletes will be without a varsity team.

Officials conceded that the three women’s sports eliminated might not be termed exclusively Title IX cuts. Rose said that fencing had struggled with a dwindling roster, that archery was a niche sport that might be better suited as a club team, and that gymnastics was not a conference sport and had few nearby rivals for competition.

“Reasonable people would conclude that having 18 sports is still comprehensive,” Rose said. “I agree that athletics provides an opportunity, but we also have over 300 organizations on the campus that are not intercollegiate sports. Intercollegiate athletics is not our primary reason for being.”

In this moderator’s opinion, Title IX has done a wonderful job of leveling the athletic playing field for men and women. But the persistent elimination of Olympic sports is detrimental to higher education, to athletics, and to those students whom the law is supposed to be serving.

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