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Do You Believe In The Easter Bunny?
by Silence Dogood

According to an article in the St. Cloud Times on May 2, 2016, five members of the St. Cloud State University women’s tennis team have sued the university,

In a March 2, 2016 St. Cloud Times article about the proposed cuts to sports programs, President Potter is quoted:

In a document provided by SCSU entitled St. Cloud State Intercollegiate Athletics Frequently Asked Questions, there is the following table showing roster participants.

So in the 2016-17 academic year, it appears that there will be 254 women participants and 250 men participants. Nothing here shows unequal opportunities under Title IX. However, if you total up the numbers for 2015-16, you find that the women had 246 participants and the men had 374. As a result, in 2015-16, the men had 128 more participants than the women!

I may have been born at night—it just wasn’t last night! If there are 128 more men participants in intercollegiate sports than women, it certainly seems like this might be a violation of Title IX equal opportunity provisions. I guess that with such a large disparity between men’s and women’s participants in 2015-16, it was probably wise for the administration not to show the numbers totaled!

The lawsuit alleges that the university, for years, has offered more athletic opportunities for men than for women. Clearly, based on the 2015-16 academic year from the data provided by SCSU, the students have a strong case. Looking back at the participation numbers for previous years should be pretty easy to do. If the numbers for the prior years are similar to those for 2015-16, I’m fairly certain that SCSU will not issue a press release. So in this case, no press release means there were more opportunities for men than women, essentially proving the student’s case. If a press release comes out with the numbers showing equal access, the students probably don’t stand a chance in court.

As President, Earl Potter has the right to shut down any athletic program he wants to (just like he has the right to close any academic program—think aviation). After all, he is the President. So if he wants to reduce the number of participants to bring SCSU into Title IX compliance, he can certainly do so and in fact is obligated to do so under Title IX. In the March 2, 2016 SC Times article, it also states:

So President Potter may have been hinting that some of reductions in sports programs are due to Title IX considerations. I guess that is a whole lot better than saying for the nine years I’ve been President; we’ve been out of compliance with Title IX so these cuts are necessary to bring us into compliance. Instead, he used the urgency of a 10 million dollar budget deficit to justify cutting six sports programs—just so he wouldn’t have to explain why for years SCSU has been out of compliance with Title IX.

Some analysis of the proposed reductions in sports programs do not indicate that there will be a $250,000 savings as claimed by the administration. In fact, it has been argued that the reductions will actually cost the university more that what it claims it will save. The one thing for certain is that the administration’s handling of the elimination of the sports programs has given St. Cloud State another ‘black eye’ and the publicity from the lawsuit brings up the $8.7 million dollar loss on Coborn’s Plaza Apartments (over six years), a 24.8% decline in on campus students (since 2009-10), and the $10 million dollar budget deficit for FY17, all of which does not does not address any of the solutions to these complex problems.

So what does this all have to do with the Easter Bunny? Not a lot. However, if you believe in an egg laying long-eared, cotton-tailed creature, maybe you just might believe that the cuts in the sports programs at SCSU were part of solving the $10 million dollar budget deficit and not a clever way to bring SCSU into Title IX compliance without drawing attention to the fact it was so far out of compliance. Cutting $250,000 from the athletic department budget solves only 2.5% of the $10,000,000, as President Potter refers to it, “budget hole to close.” Obviously, more work needs to be done to end up with a budget that doesn’t result in a deficit—since there are no longer any mandated reserves to spend down.

Now if someone could only explain why the Easter Bunny’s eggs are made out of chocolate we might be able to solve one of the few last remaining mysteries.

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