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Thursday, December 04, 2014
UAB Abolition of Football and the Intersection of Title VI and Title IX

The University of Alabama at Birmingham announced earlier this week that it was shutting down its football, bowling and rifle teams. The decision has been controversial in Alabama and sent reverberations across the country in college athletics. The university probably gave some consideration to the implications under Title IX with respect to the bowling and rifle teams in making the decision but did it look at the potential application of Title VI?

Even though closing of the bowling and rifle teams will reduce participation opportunities for women, the reduction in football participation numbers will drop the participation numbers for men below that of women according to UAB’s last Equity in Athletics report. However, closing the football program will result in a substantial decrease in participation numbers for African American males will be substantial and a similar impact on the overall participation numbers for African American athletes. Furthermore, bowling happens to be a sport in which African American women comprise a significant percentage of the participants in intercollegiate competition. Although the UAB team may not currently have an African American member, it is a sport in which UAB has the potential to offer African American female athletes participation opportunities outside of basketball and track.

Given the impact of the decision on opportunities for African American student athletes and the reallocation of resources to other sports, UAB’s decision may have Title VI implications.

Alfred Dennis Mathewson


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