• February 22, 2012

U of M Professor of Sport Sociology and Director at the Tucker Center Mary Jo Kane spoke at the Feb/2012 Federal Bar Association luncheon on the overwhelming challenges faced by university athletic directors as a result of Title IX‘s mandate of “proportionality” between spending on men and women athletic programs.  Prof. Kane spoke on this, the 40th year since the passage of Title IX.

A new women’s sports program costs $800,000, Prof. Kane said, which athletic directors do not have in their budgets.  Some directors, therefore, faced with the challenge to make their mens’ and womens’ programs “proportional,” will axe a mens’ sports program (for a corresponding savings of $800,000) (and blame Title IX).

Prof. Kane, however, homes in on the 900 lbs. gorilla, so to speak, FOOTBALL, for her solution to the challenge of Title IX.  She takes the position that collegiate football programs are both the problem AND the solution.  

Athletic directors consider college football programs to be the sacrosanct “golden geese.”  The only problem is that these geese are so babied, so cosseted, and so bloated (meaning, for example, a college football squad may have 125 players but an NFL squad numbers less than half), that football revenues are largely devoured by football costs.  Revenues are huge, profits are slim to none at most Division 1 schools, Prof. Kane pointed out.

The solution:  trim back the football programs in ways that will keep the sports’ excellence and high caliber, that will keep the revenues where they are, but that will substantially lower the costs.  (Who knew that Division 1 home team football squads stay the night before home games in a hotel in the home town?  Maybe there are some savings there?  Maybe if an NFL team can make it through a season with 53 players, college football might squeak by with something less than 125 players?)

In closing, addressing another aspect of athletics getting media attention these days,  Prof. Kane distributed a free DVD, “Concussions and Female Athletes: The Untold Story” (a youtube video on the subject is here).

On a note only related to Prof. Kane’s talk in that the subject was limited resources and how to deal with them, Minnesota Litigator had the pleasure of chatting with U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge James B. Loken at the lunch.  Asked if there might be any news that he could impart that would be of interest to Minnesota civil litigators, Judge Loken mentioned that the Eighth Circuit will be saving some money by having fewer sittings in the year to come.

The Eighth Circuit, apparently, has more oral argument than some circuits and many cases (for example, sentencing appeals) are not particularly helped by oral argument.  The cost of housing Eighth Circuit judges for argument adds up and there is a sense that justice, at a somewhat lower cost, will remain excellent and high caliber with fewer sittings of the court.

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