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Dec 15 SAVING SPORTS AT JAMES MADISON Fact sheet and student government association resolution published

By Jennifer Chapman | Dec. 06, 2006, 4:56 p.m. (ET)
The group Save Our Sports, which is working for the reinstatement of the 10 varsity sports programs recented dropped by James Madison University, has published a fact sheet about the situation there.

In addition the Student Government Association at James Madison has issued a resolution asking the university to re-assess its decision. Content of the documents are posted below.

Save Our Sports
www.savejmusports.org
Supported by the Student Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC)


Contact info: Jennifer Chapman (president)
703.850.3170 (cell phone)
chapmajk@jmu.edu (e-mail)

Decision made by James Madison University Board of Visitors Sept 29, 2006:

- Eliminate 10 athletic programs ( 7 men's / 3 women's )
- Effective date: July 1, 2007
- Teams Cut: Men's Cross Country, Men's Indoor Track, Men's Archery, Men's Swimming, Wrestling, Men's Archery, Men's Gymnastics, Women's Gymnastics, Women's Archery, Women's Fencing

Parties Consulted in Decision:
Lemar Daniel
- Title IX independent consultant from Atlanta, GA
- Former Office of Civil Rights investigator

State Attorney General's Office Representative

Reasons given for Decision:
- JMU was not in compliance with the Proportionality requirement of Title IX
- 2001 reallocation of scholarships compromised the competitive ability of a number of teams
- NCAA certification process identified program weaknesses
- Desire by JMU to have all teams competing in the Colonial Athletic Association
- Concern for potential lawsuits by under-funded teams not currently having varsity status or receiving scholarship allocations
- Adding women's teams in order to come into compliance was not a feasible alternative

The Save Our Sports Coalition made up of athletes, students, alumni, parents and fans have asked JMU to reconsider the decision. The Coalition does not believe JMU explored all available options and asks that the following information be brought to the public's attention.

FACTS

1. JMU conducted the critical decision making process in secret for 18 months, not allowing input from students, alumni, on-campus sports councils, or outside organizations that may have offered other viable solutions. The U.S. Olympic Committee and other sports associations have asked JMU to reconsider the decision and have offered to work towards other more positive long-term solutions.

2. Parent Coalition leaders met with President Linwood Rose in November and asked that the elimination of the 10 sports be stopped until 2010, also asked that the decision making process be opened to the greater community so that a better solution can be found. President Rose has not responded.

3. JMU did not disclose that it was considering the cuts when recruiting 2006 freshmen. Recruits were told there were no plans for team eliminations and these young people turned down opportunities to compete at other institutions.

4. Many of the 144 affected athletes turned down academic scholarships offered by other universities to attend JMU and compete in their sport.

5. Title IX offers a three prong test for compliance. JMU chose to comply with prong one or the "proportionality" requirement. JMU did not attempt to comply with either of the other two options for meeting Title IX compliance.

6. The 2001 decision by JMU to reallocate scholarships has not compromised the competitive abilities of affected teams as stated in the report to the Board of Visitors. Men's Cross Country was 2nd in the conference, Men's Swimming was 3rd, and Wrestling was 6th in the conference and had a NCAA qualifier. Archery produced two members of the US National team and Fencing produced the State Champion. Gymnastics sent many athletes to the USGA championships.

7. The teams cut have traditionally posted the highest GPA's of teams in the athletic program.

8. Numbers used to make the decision are not accurate. The report given to the Board of Visitors stated there are 382 men in JMU's program when there are actually only 342. Women's numbers were underreported. Women's track reported 122 members when they have 157. The ratios presented to the Board of Visitors made JMU appear to have a worse proportionality problem than actually exists.

9. JMU will still not meet the "proportionality" test even after making the cuts. Proportionality is not restricted solely to roster numbers. It is also defined by the proportional allocation of an institution's scholarship money, coaches' salaries, and team expenditure. JMU's current enrollment numbers consist of 61% female and 39% male student body. In order to fully comply with the "proportionality" test, the school's budget allocation must also reflect these percentages. The figures below are the proposed budget distributions for the 2007-2008 academic year (after 10 sports are cut). Even if these budget allocations are accepted, JMU will still fail to comply with proportionality!

Scholarships
53.5% Female
46.5% Male

Total Coaches Compensation w/Benefits
45% Female
55% Male

Travel
47% Female
53% Male

Competition
56% Female
44% Male

Operation
42% Female
58% Male

Total Expense
47% Female
53% Male

10. The concern for potential lawsuits by under-funded sports teams is not a valid concern. It has been suggested that three women's teams: equestrian, water polo and rugby were requesting varsity status. JMU would not have had to add any of these sports for the same reasons they have given for cutting Women's Fencing, Women's Archery and Women's Gymnastics. The reasons given were; lack of conference affiliation and lack of varsity competition in the state / region (and in Archery's case the nation). Not one single Division 1 school in Virginia has any of the three sports. None of these teams could be considered to become varsity under the Office of Civil Rights' clarification of Prong 3. Furthermore, the OCR informed the Save Our Sports organization that JMU would not be liable to fund equestrian due to the extreme liability associated with the sport.

11. Money is not an issue. Every JMU student pays $1400 in annual fees that go to the athletic department. That number will not decrease if the 10 sports are dropped. JMU administration has announced that they plan to increase enrollment to 20,000 in the next few years. Currently enrollment is 16,000. With 4,000 more students, the athletic department will gain $5,600,000. Since the cost of the ten teams is only $549,000 per year, JMU can easily fund those 10 teams in the future. The remaining $5,050,000 can be used to fully fund scholarships for Women's Swimming, Women's Tennis, Women's Golf, Men's Golf and Men's Tennis (which the school stated was a goal of the Sept decision) and still have a considerable amount remaining for football and basketball.

12. JMU has stated that they do not want to add any more women's teams. To meet "proportionality", the elimination of 39 women will force teams such as women's soccer, volleyball and swimming to increase their roster numbers beyond standards. Athletes would be expected to train hard daily but not be guaranteed playing time and travel teams would preclude many from competing.

13. "Proportionality" will require that to meet future increases in female enrollment, more men's programs may have to be eliminated and/or men's scholarships taken away and given to women's teams. This will hurt recruiting for men's teams and the future of their programs.

JMU has recently embarked on a campaign, encouraging students and alumni to "BE THE CHANGE". This campaign encourages us all to do something beyond the norm. With 28 varsity teams, JMU was ranked 7th in the country with the most athletic programs. This should be viewed as a very positive thing. Statistics always correlate sports with a healthy lifestyle. All across this country, colleges and universities are dropping non-revenue sports. JMU should embrace this opportunity to "BE THE CHANGE" and continue to offer the excellent variety in their athletic program. Dropping sports that aren't "money makers" sends the wrong message to young Americans. JMU should "BE THE CHANGE" and provide the opportunity for the youth of America to achieve their goals in both academics and athletics. Most athletes never make it to the Olympics or turn "Pro", but they compete because they love the sport. They love their coaches, their teammates, they thrive on competition and they've learned that sports teach discipline, time management, loyalty and commitment. All of these qualities make better students, better citizens, and better leaders. It is time for JMU to "BE THE CHANGE".

JAMES MADISION UNIVERSITY STUDENT GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION

SAVE OUR SPORTS

Recognizing at this time, there is a lack of understanding, consensus and agreement among the JMU community to last weeks Board of Visitors' decision regarding the closure of 10 varsity sports teams
Because the student govemment association stands with students before all other groups involved

Realizing that our constituency, which includes student athletes, denwnds resolute and immediate action

Whereas the Board of Visitors has maintained limited transparency with the issue to groups affected, namely the student population, the athletic programs involved, athletic faculty and administration

Whereas we feel the decision was relayed to the public in an inappropriate matter

Whereas the student body has shown a desire to be incorporated into such major dialogues that have such wide-reaching impact

And furthermore whereas James Madison University is chartered as a public institution for nurturing the abilities of its main responsibility, its student population

Whereas James Madison University prides itself on its commitment to "preparing students to be educated and enlightened citizens who lead productive and lneaningfullives"

And because such commitment requires the student's right to improve natural talents and abilities including athletic abilities

And Whereas we all bleed purple for this university

Be it resolved that the student govemment association in representation and support of JMU's world-class athletic programs will continue its good faith in the administration to bring the student voice into a re-appraisal of such a decision

That information pertinent to the decision making process that was previously not made public be made immediately public

That the Student Representative to the Board of Visitors (SRBOV) be informed nlOre inclusively in future decisions to bring students into the marketplace of ideas

And lastly but most importantly that those athletes and faculty removed be fully supported in whatever capacities JMU can make readily available



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