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Columbia Spectator Staff

While Jim Isch and NCAA Executive Committee are choosing among many candidates to replace the recently departed NCAA President Myles Brand, I urge them to remember that we're in the 21st century. The person they choose as the NCAA's next leader must be in touch with the world of today's intercollegiate athletes and their interests. The world we live in celebrates the fact that more young adults than ever are choosing to attend college, with nearly 60 percent of those students being female. The world we live in now is one that celebrates men and women as being equals. The question is: why doesn't the NCAA treat them as such? Rather than treat them like equal individuals capable of gauging their own interest in sports, they treat them as if they are all robots: thinking, acting, and behaving as if they had the same wants and needs. Legislation of the 20th century, like Title IX, needs to be reevaluated in the light of the world we live in. Title IX was, by design, an attempt to even out the admissions rates between men and women, since in the '70s, women only comprised 44 percent of undergraduates. Given that male enrollment has been sinking slowly to around 40 percent, I'd say that there's no need for a policy that favors women over men anymore. As Leo Kocher put it, Title IX has "been twisted by the Department of Education into a law that virtually guarantees sex discrimination against men." The manual for compliance published in 1979 requires that the percentage of women in the student body must equal the percentage of female student-athletes in varsity "intercollegiate" athletics. This means that since 60 percent of undergraduates are women, 60 percent of student-athletes must be women. Does that requirement even make sense? It makes it harder to recruit men, or to have depth on your teams, especially since the retention rate of women in athletics is far lower than it is for men. If 10 female athletes quit during a season, does that mean that you need to cut 7 men for the sake of equality? Do you need to kidnap 10 women from campus and turn them into athletes overnight? A proportionality requirement is what we call a quota. In economics, we say that quotas are bad. They distort the natural balance of supply and demand, and keep the world from functioning at equilibrium. It's true, too, in athletics. If Kocher's statistic is that there are three men playing intramural sports for every one female, why would you require that more women than men play sports at the varsity level? I thought that here at Columbia, we might be immune to such ridiculous policies. But then I remembered when I used to work at the gym and talk to David almost every day. Every day he told me how excited he was for head basketball coach Joe Jones to hold open tryouts so he could walk on to the basketball team. And then one day, he came in and I asked him when tryouts were. "He's not having them," David told me. Surely a team that hasn't had a winning Ivy season in all the time I've been at Columbia is not prohibiting him from walking on because they have too much talent (no offense meant, Coach). Here's the kicker: At the same time, the women's volleyball team was trying to recuperate from having 5 players quit the team in the offseason. Again. Is all of this really coincidence? Something stinks here, and it's Title IX. With our undergrad male-female balance, our two men's crew teams, and a football program, there is no way that this school is currently compliant with Title IX's first prong, as per the NCAA's regulation. But Columbia shouldn't have to be—no university ought to be bound by such restrictive, sexist legislation. There's no way to balance the scale without cutting men's programs, or worse, spreading an already underfunded athletics budget among even more mediocre sports. The athletes here deserve better. But there's hope! The Bush administration (wait, let me finish) did a study of Title IX and suggested a method of compliance that represents the interests of students at the school. If the students agree that their needs are being met, shouldn't that be enough? Myles Brand said no. The NCAA threatened schools not to comply with the interest survey, or else. It isn't the first time that an organization leader had become so beholden to interest groups that he couldn't advocate doing what is right. However, when femi-nazis believe that they deserve special preferential treatment in the workplace, too, it's hard to stand up and say enough is enough. It doesn't take a college degree to see that the system is currently broken. Why not try to fix it? Best of luck to the newest president-elect. Lisa Lewis is a Barnard College senior majoring in economics.