Towson's Title IX situation not as dire as originally thought

A task force charged with evaluating Towson athletic director Mike Waddell's recommendation to cut baseball and men's soccer has yet to forward its findings to the university president's office.

Part of the delay has to do with their revised understanding of Towson's Title IX situation, which was one of the reasons Waddell gave for wanting to eliminating 60 roster spots for male athletes. He has insisted the school needs to try to achieve athlete proportionality -- meaning the percentage of women athletes is about equal to the percentage of women enrolled at the school -- and that cutting sports was therefore necessary.


In the executive summary of his proposal, he provided numbers showing that only 53 percent of Towson's athletes are women, while women make up 60 percent of the student body.

His restructuring of the department would correct the discrepency, according to the document.


But according to David Nevins, the chairman of the university's board of visitors and the athletics task force, the group is no longer working with the figures provided by Waddell. Those calculations failed to count both the women's indoor and outdoor track teams as separate teams; doing so adds more than 50 women to the ledger and means that dropping so many roster spots for men would be unnecessary (and in fact could prevent compliance because too many of the total opportunities would go to women).

Waddell confirmed in an e-mail that the task force, which is in its "final deliberations" according to an email sent to Towson staff and students today, was now using revised numbers, but he declined to discuss the situation further.

It is unclear what caused Waddell to use calculations that failed to reflect a common practice referred to as double counting. Despite the fact that the athletes on the indoor and outdoor track teams are essentially the same -- just as most of the cross country runners are members of both of those teams -- Title IX proportionality can be achieved by showing that the number of opportunities, not participants, is proportional. Each roster spot on the track teams would count as a separate opportunity.

A proper accounting of Towson's current athletic population, then, would show about 57 percent of the opportunities already go to women. Only minor adjustments to squad sizes would be necessary to raise that number to 58 or 59 percent and satisfy Title IX guidelines.

The 13-member task force was expected to report its findings to Maravene Loeschke, a former Towson-student, teacher and administrator who returned as president this year, by mid-November so that she could reach a decision quickly. She re-stated that goal in the email sent to those on campus, saying that she is "simultaneously conducting my own extensive review" into the matter.

While baseball and soccer players at the school had feared the original Title IX argument would be too compelling for the task force to ignore, they've been re-invigorated by word that Towson need not take drastic steps to comply with the federal law.

Zack Fisher said that his teammates -- some of whom will seek to transfer immediately if baseball is cut -- found out Wednesday about the new thinking on Title IX.

"Up to then everything we heard was that we were going to get cut," he said. "Apparently the Title IX issue was a big deal to the committee because the university didn't want to be left open to a lawsuit. But clearly that's not as much of an issue now."