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Title IX is not Cloud 9 for college athletics

Feb 27, 2001 8:00 AM

So far, the public dialogue on Title IX and its relationship to college athletics has been controlled, under the aegis of a benign White House, but feminist zealots want Title IX extended to the nth degree regardless of the consequences.

But changes could be coming in the administration of the law. That’s because President George W. Bush has said, "I do not support a system of quotas or strict proportionality that pits one group against another. We should support a reasonable approach to Title IX that seeks to expand opportunities for women rather than destroying men’s teams."

The 2000 Republican Party Platform echoes Bush’s position.

The President’s stance is directly at odds with that of Donna Lopiano, the executive director of the Women’s Sports Foundation and the most strident of the self-appointed spokespersons for female athletes. Lopiano has long been on record as favoring strict proportionality even if that means carrying it to the extent of substantially diminishing or actually eliminating college football.

If the Bush administration follows through on its avowed position, quotas will be out and fairness and common sense will be in.

Avalanche

An avalanche of free agents is blanketing the NFL player market. That’s because this coming Saturday, March 2, is the deadline for teams to get under the league’s $67.4 million salary cap. Throughout the league a lot of well-known players have been cut loose and others are being asked to restructure contracts to create more cap space. Adroit bookkeeping is the order of the day.

According to NFL Players Association figures, there are 14 teams over the cap. Heading the list are the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Kansas City Chiefs, each at more than $30 million. Others in the high brackets include the Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, Carolina Panthers, Washington Redskins and Buffalo Bills.

The All-American Boy

Duke University may have set some sort of precedent by retiring the No. 31 of star basketball player Shane Battier while he is still in school and playing. To hear his admirers tell it, Battier is a virtual reincarnation of "Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy."

And ESPN motor mouth Dick Vitale went so far as to speculate on Battier eventually becoming president of General Motors. Vitale, of course, is so prone to hyperbole that the wonder is he didn’t propose Battier for canonization. From all accounts, Battier is a fine young man but to this observer it seems like retiring his number now is a bit much. What we have at this stage is character portrayal, not character development.

The Three Sluggers

The contracts of three of the premier sluggers in baseball — St. Louis’ Mark McGwire, San Francisco’s Barry Bonds and Chicago’s Sammy Sosa — expire at the end of the coming season and they then can become free agents if they so desire.

Sosa and the Cubs are far apart on his demands for a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract and at the moment there appears little likelihood of the two getting together. The Cubs apparently would willingly trade him but it seems unlikely that another team would trade away good players and take a chance on signing Sosa.

Bonds had been publicly griping that the Giants have not entered into negotiations on a contract renewal. The Giants say they will not do so until the end of the season and in any event will not trade him. Possibly hanging over the whole deal is the fact that Bonds will be 37-years old in July — hardly a prospect for a long-term deal — and there’s also the possibility of a work stoppage for the 2002 season.

McGwire missed much of last season because of a knee injury, underwent surgery in the off-season and is being counted on by the Cardinals for a big year. He’ll probably play two out of every three games early in the campaign and later more frequently. As for a new contract, there is no problem with money and the big slugger will again sign with the Cardinals. He’ll be 38 in October and wants to play until he is 40. But if a strike or lockout cancels the 2002 season, he’ll retire.