Southern Illinois University has been found out-of-compliance with federal Title IX regulations. The findings of the investigation comes in spite of reducing the number of men’s scholarships it offers early last year – which at the time, SIU said was a result of a budget and Title IX compliance review.
As a result of the latest findings, SIU will add a women’s soccer program to its offerings. The team will play as a club program in the 2018-2019 season and evolve into a full varsity program in 2020.
The report outlines the findings that Southern Illinois does not meet any of the 3 tests for determining Title IX compliance. Title IX is designed to ensure equal opportunities in scholastic athletics for male and female student-athletes.
- SIU does not meet Test 1 requirements. There was a 7.0 percent difference between the participation rates between male and female student athletes and the enrollment rates of male and female students for the 2015-2016 academic year. The difference is significant and represents approximately 65 participation opportunities.
- Currently, SIU does not meet Test 2 (history and continuing practice of program expansion) requirements because it has been twenty-six years since the last sport for women was added (swimming/diving in 1989-90).
- It cannot be determined that SIU meets the third test because there are indicators of interest (i.e., club & high school participation and competitive region competition) for bowling, equestrian, lacrosse, soccer and rugby. Additionally, since beach volleyball has become an NCAA Emerging Sport for Women it has grown significantly and is being considered by most NCAA Division 1 institutions. It is difficult to comply with Title IX requirements for Test 3 in general and probably not possible for SIU simply because of not sponsoring women’s soccer. Women’s soccer is a major intercollegiate sport for women, and is played by over 750 high schools in the state, and is sponsored by seven other schools in the MVC. However, if SIU chooses to adjust the sports it sponsors and proportionally (Test 1) compliance is obtained, Test 3 compliance will be moot.
For reference, the three-part test is as follows:
- The number of male and female athletes is substantially proportionate to their respective enrollments; or
- The institution has a history and continuing practice of expanding participation opportunities responsive to the developing interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex; or
- The institution is fully and effectively accommodating the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex.
Read the findings here.
In the same announcement that they would be reducing scholarships for the men’s swimming and diving team, the school also in January of 2017 cut both the men’s and women’s tennis teams in order to save $660,000 amidst the state’s ongoing budget crisis. It was the coach of the tennis team, Judy Auld, and former player Molly Beckmann whose complaint with the Office of Civil Rights that prompted this investigation.