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The Increased Importance Of Title IX In Difficult Budgetary Circumstances

Let's take a closer look at the financial underpinnings of Cal's women's sports.

Chris Graythen

I wanted to talk today about Title IX. Title IX reads as follows:

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance...

Established in the 1970s, it revolutionized women's athletics in America. Title IX requires schools to provide equal opportunities to women compared to men in regards to athletics. The question that I see posed from time to time is "Do we still need Title IX?" I've been doing some posts on Cal Athletics' financials and after reviewing the finances, my thesis here is that America needs Title IX more than ever. I believe that Cal is a microcosm of what is happening all across America.

Women's Basketball at Cal is in great shape right now. An Athletic Director who prides herself on having a relevant WBB team. A wildly successful 2012-2013 season, culminating in a Final Four run. An extremely bright future under Coach Lindsay Gottlieb. I've been following WBB closely for about 5-ish years and it's never been better than it is now.

Or has it? DUN DUN DUN!

The reality is that the financial situation for Cal Women's Basketball and Women's sports at Cal in general is very precarious. Here is the information from the 2012 FY. The bottom line for WBB in 2012 was that they lost approximately $120,000.00. That is the bottom line number, but it is misleading to say "Oh, WBB lost $120,000.00, that is unfortunate" and move on. Compared to Oregon's WBB, which lost $2.5 mil, maybe that doesn't look so bad. However, you have to look a bit deeper at the numbers.

The first and biggest thing that jumps out at you is that the WBB's operating revenues are goosed by $1.7 mil in Direct Institutional Support. This is money coming from the University. Overall, the University gave approximately $7 mil in direct support to the Athletics Department in FY2012. The vast majority of this money went to Women's Sports. Besides the $1.7 mil to WBB, approximately $5 mil went to "Other Women's Sports" (basically every women's sports that isn't basketball). That is about 95% of the Direct Institutional Support.

Direct Institutional Support may be a thing of the past somewhat soon. The University has been rattling its sabre in recent years about trying to lower that as much as possible. The budget crisis in Sacramento has hurt the University significantly. $7 mil a year is money that many people think could be better spent on the academic side than the athletic side. I'm not here to argue the merits of that, but merely to state that there is pressure on Athletics to be as self-sufficient as possible and end the handouts. In comparison, Oregon gives its WBB team no Direct Institutional Support at all (or potentially Oregon's $8,500.00 in "compensation to WBB from a third party" is money that fell out of Uncle Phil's wallet; either way, it's a fraction compared to $1.7 mil).

The $1.7 mil appears to be somewhat in line with past years. In 2011, it is hard to tell exactly what was provided, because the Direct Institutional Support isn't split up into sports.

Cal WBB lost $1.9 million that year and if I take away the $1.7 mil from 2012's $120,000 loss, it turns into a $1.82 million loss, which is extremely close to $1.9 million. In 2010, Cal WBB got $1.4 million in direct support.

By factoring the Direct Institutional Support into the equation, this definitely makes it seem like Cal Women's Basketball is doing better financially than it really is.

The problems stem from ticket sales. WBB only made approximately $150,000.00 from ticket sales (which is still about $38,000.00 more than all other women's sports combined). MBB made approximately $2.4 million playing roughly the same schedule as WBB, but flipped. Obviously, for a variety of reasons, that is not an apples to apples comparison. However, Oregon WBB made over $200,000.00 in ticket sales. Their Other Women's Sports, also made over $200,000.00 in FY2012 (about $100,000.00 more than Cal's Other Women's Sports).

I could keep crunching the numbers, but the bottom line is the same. And it's exactly what you would have guessed coming into this post: Not only is Women's Basketball losing a substantial sum of money, all women's sports combined lose millions. By my calculations, women's sports at Cal lost approximately $7 mil in FY2012. At Oregon, it was $11 mil in 2012. Perhaps there are a few places where WBB makes money, like Stanford, UConn, or Tennessee, but those are the exceptions to the rule.

I suspect that no matter how well any of the sports do (and many are doing amazing) and no matter how hard the great employees at Cal work, women's sports will never turn a profit. I'm not here to say that this is bad or is good. It merely is what it is. Symptomatic of a society which spends billions on two college sports: football and basketball and ignores pretty much everything else (sorry, baseball!).

I don't want you to think I'm piling on women's sports. Men's sports also struggle. Cal lists all the other men's sports in one lump sum, so it is tough to get a bead on whether any make money. Here, Other Men's Sports lost approximately $300K in 2012, but they also had $300K of direct support from the University, and Cal Athletics used almost $3 million in Endowment spending, leading me to believe that Other Men's Sports combined lost a pretty penny.

I'm not writing this post to denigrate women's sports. I go to many women's sporting events, such as basketball, softball, and volleyball. Here at CGB, we try to provide coverage to as many of these women's sports as possible. We try to promote all things Berkeley!

No, the real focus on this post is to underline how important Title IX is. Title IX requires funding of women's sports across America. I've seen people in the past provide the viewpoint that we've reached equality and Title IX is no longer necessary. This view stems from many factors. Some of which are the fact that it does appear we have a healthy selection of women's sports to choose from. Some people say this about Title IX due to frustration and bitterness over men's sports (like wrestling) getting cut to make space for women's sports.

However, the bottom line is that these numbers here show that Title IX is more necessary than ever! If Cal wasn't legally required to support women's sports, many of those women's sports would disappear in the stroke of a pen. I believe that Cal is required to keep Women's Basketball and Volleyball to maintain its Pac-12 membership, but all the other sports could be at risk. Perhaps Cal would have enough dignity to try to maintain some of them, but many schools would most likely wipe them out.

Cal's balance sheet claims that it made approximately $136,000.00 in FY2012. However, that is due to approximately $10 mil in either direct support from the University or money transferred from the athletics endowment. So, the reality is that Cal Athletics lost approximately $10 mil in FY2012 and had to move money around to make up the shortfall. If you axe every women's sport at Cal, you are quickly just $3 mil in the red. Your difficult decisions just got easier. Plus, you don't have to get as much of the stink eye from the University, when you take only $3 mil instead of $7 mil in support.

As noted above, men's sports outside of football and MBB, lose money (although its unclear specifically how the losses are). I am sure that if we got rid of Title IX and Cal got rid of a substantial portion of its women's sports, it might also get rid of many men's sports. Perhaps not baseball, our alleged national pastime, but I'm sure there are many sports losing a decent chunk of change and if you are in spring cleaning mode, why not? Title IX is important for both men's and women's sports.


There is an appearance of equality in modern collegiate athletics. Cal has more women's teams than men's teams. Women's sports, such as basketball, volleyball, and softball are all over TV. For all the improvement over the past, for all the hoopla, for all the pomp and circumstance, the numbers don't lie: they don't bring in any profit. Period.

In a time when people want Athletics Departments to be run as a business, any inefficiency will be reduced whenever possible. When you have only 2 of your 27 products that make any money, it is extremely easy to find inefficiency. The vast majority over Cal Athletics' products lose money and every single women's product loses money. Women's basketball loses the most money and this is a pattern that seemingly repeats itself with Athletics Departments across America.

Since its implementation in the 1970s, Title IX has been great in helping two generations of women get athletic opportunities that were never available to their foremothers. However, the progress is precarious and exists only as long as a)Title IX exists and b)Athletics Departments are willing to endure massive financial losses. B is pretty much gone, so if A is also gone, women's sports will be equally as gone. Title IX is as important as ever to continue to protect the progress made.

And who knows? Perhaps sometime in the future women's sports will become more self-sufficient and the finances will turn around. Perhaps then we could consider changing or deleting Title IX. Until then, thank you to Senator Birch Bayh and all the people who spent years pushing the government to enact Title IX. We wouldn't have Lindsay Gottlieb and her amazing California Golden Bears without them.