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Chuck B.

Did Duquesne sacrifice baseball and wrestling for football?

Rating: 5 votes, 2.80 average.
It's always sad when schools drop any sport, and the recent decision by Duquesne to [URL=""]drop baseball, wrestling, golf and swimming[/URL] isn't a happy day for the Dukes. But looking closer at the situation, it's clear that Duquesne's decision to go from the non-scholarship MAAC to the limited-scholarship NEC may have had everything to do with athletic director Greg Amodio's decision.

You'd be hard pressed to find anything about it, however, [URL=""]in a report by the [I]Pittsburgh Post-Gazette[/I][/URL] or this [URL=""]blog posting by Bob Smizik[/URL]. They skirt around the issue, but don't talk about it head-on.

[QUOTE]Duquesne announced Monday a strategic restructuring of its varsity sports program in what it called "an effort to maximize financial resources and ensure sustained athletic success."

The move will reduce the number of varsity sports from 20 to 16 and keep all related scholarship and operational funding within the athletic department.

[B]It is not known what, if any, impact federal Title IX regulations had in the decision to cut four men's teams but no women's sports.[/B][/QUOTE]

The important, missing piece to this analysis was some unmentioned history. In 2007, Duquesne was a Division I school playing non-scholarship football (read: non-counting for Title IX purposes). When the MAAC, their football conference at the time, folded, they chose to join the limited-scholarship NEC and - at the same time - offered some limited scholarships. (One of their high-profile transfers they got at the time was [B]QB Connor Dixon[/B],[URL=""] from Michigan State[/URL].)

When you add this to the overall picture, the thought process becomes much clearer. To add thirty (or so) scholarships for football, because of Title IX you either need to spend money for thirty (or so) women's scholarships, or subtract thirty (or so) scholarships from existing men's sports. When viewed in that context, it's hard to escape the fact that wrestling, swimming, baseball and golf were likely to have thirty (or so) scholarships between them.

[QUOTE]Amodio’s decision reduced the number of sports at Duquesne to 15, which is two less than Pitt, a public institution that has big revenue producers in football and basketball. I bring this up not to disparage Pitt but to show that Duquesne, considering its size and revenue flow, is still trying to maintain as broad an athletic program as it can.

You could, in fact, make the case that Amodio held the line as long as he could.

Minor sports, or non-revenue sports as they once were called, might not bring in money but they are not inexpensive to run. There are salaries, facilities, travel, medical care and the costs of the scholarships involved. The participants, as I well know, get much from these sports. But the greater university not so much, as I also well know.[/QUOTE]

What the blogger does *not* mention is that offering fifteen sports is the minimum to consider onesself to be Division I institution. He also doesn't mention that - thank you, [URL=""]EADA reports[/URL] - that the sport that is the most expensive to run per athlete is men's basketball. Of the $1.5 million of expenses of Duquesne's athletic department, $622,000 is incurred by Atlantic 10 basketball (or, for those scoring at home, 41.7% of the overall athletic budget).

So in reality, the situation at Duquesne is a bit more nuanced. Duquesne saw an opportunity in 2008 to raise - only slightly, mind you - the profile of their historic football program. At some point, they would have to pay the piper by either adding women's scholarships or subtracting men's scholarships - thanks to Title IX. Touching men's basketball? Not an option - when it comes to "cost cutting", unsurprisingly, men's basketball stays intact.

To be fair, it's difficult to properly put in context the entire picture when a school drops sports - the papers are pressed for real estate in the paper, and the schools themselves are not obligated to fill in the entire picture. But when looking at everything, Duquesne's story is a familiar one in Division I these days: protect the bloated men's basketball program at all costs, and if you want to have scholarship football too (even at the FCS level), you'd better be ready to have some sad students thanks to Title IX.

Fortunately, some of the comments from the blog posting offer some different, interesting insight too:

[QUOTE]Bob, you are correct in that Title IX is participant based, not team based. It is also based on the ratio of the male:female population at the school. The major problem with that logic, as developed by the US Congress (or their lawyers and or lobbyists) is that there is no female sport which equates to football in terms of scholarship participants. Therefore, if you have a football team, then the only way that you can achieve gender equity by Title IX standards is to provide more women's teams then men's teams, hence the sudden interest in women's collegiate bowling teams 25 years ago. Since there are very few sports which are female only it leads to the elimination of sports like wrestling, which is an easy target since it also does not have a female equivalent.

Duquesne's official stance may be that this was not Title IX driven and that it was a financial decision, but that claim would have more credibility if the decision was to eliminate men's AND women's swimming and diving, not just men's. Best as I can tell it costs an equal amount to heat the pool regardless of the gender of the person in it.[/QUOTE]

[QUOTE]The reality is that dropping four sports at Duquesne is all about making sure that they have enough money to maximize the scholarships and pay the coaches of their three high profile sports. Meanwhile, approximately 20% of the student-athletes and four long time coaches are wondering if their athletic director and president understand the NCAA creed of Learning, Balance, Spirit, Community, Fair Play, Character.[/QUOTE]

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Updated 01-27-2010 at 11:56 AM by Chuck B.