Reversing course on an announcement made last December, Temple University will not eliminate the sports of men’s crew and women’s rowing, after it was announced that necessary improvements to the teams’ boathouse would not incur cost to the university. Instead, the $5 million renovation will be fronted by the City of Philadelphia and a generous trustee.
The other five sports that were named for elimination — baseball, softball, men’s gymnastics, and men’s indoor and outdoor track and field — will not be restored, according to Temple’s president. In refraining to revisit the elimination of these sports, the university appears to disregard efforts that proponents of gymnastics, softball and baseball have also made to secure donated facilities and other pledges of financial support to defray the cost to the university of supporting these teams. This appears to underscore Temple’s explanation that the cuts derived from multiple factors, including cost, facilities, Title IX, and student-athlete welfare. The Title IX explanation only goes so far. Coupled with the fact that Temple had offered proportionately more athletic opportunities to men than to women, Title IX explains only why it was necessary to eliminate more men’s opportunities than women’s, but Title IX does not explain why cuts were necessary in the first place, or why seven (now five) teams had to go. It’s also been suggested that Temple is slimming down its athletic department in order to fit in with its new, more competitive athletic conference. In the long run, the university seems to want fewer, more competitive programs than a variety of programs that compete for less prestige. That’s apparently what they mean by “student-athlete welfare.”