The U.S. Department of Education has launched a civil rights investigation into whether Central Michigan University discriminated against black students by cutting its men’s track and field team and planning to replace it with a golf team.
Although the query has not been posted yet On the department’s pending cases list As of Tuesday, a Central Michigan spokeswoman confirmed that officials had received a letter from the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights notifying the university of an investigation Monday.
Russell Dinkins, executive director of the Tracksmith Foundation, a group that aims to increase participation in athletics, said he filed a complaint with the university in October because he believed its conduct was racially discriminatory. Dingkins said eliminating track and field and replacing it with golf, a predominantly white sport, eliminated the opportunity for blacks to participate in college sports.
Nearly 3,000 black students will compete in Division I men’s outdoor track and field in 2021, accounting for 26 percent of all entrants, according to the latest NCAA demographics. Only 55 black students participated in the Division I men’s golf tournament, or 2 percent of all participants.
“The sport doesn’t offer the same opportunity in any way,” Dinkins said.
Central Michigan announced plans to cancel the program in May 2020, citing annual cost savings of more than $600,000. In August 2021, it was officially announced that a men’s golf team would be reinstated – more than three decades after its inception Discontinued.
Central Michigan is one of several colleges in the past few years that has announced plans to cut men’s track and field teams, citing funding shortages and concerns about compliance with Title IX of federal gender equality laws. Brown and Clemson Universities, the College of William and Mary and the University of Minnesota Twin Cities also cut their programs, but the Brown, Clemson and William and Mary teams later resumed after public outcry.
Despite calls from alumni, former athletes and parents, officials in central Michigan have shown no interest in reviving the program, Dinkins said.Michigan Chapter of the ACLU of Michigan last year Universities are also urged The program was reinstated due to “deep racial impact on students and their families.”
The university will comply fully with the federal investigation and is willing to share data related to its decision-making process, according to university spokeswoman Ariadne Harris.
“We have invested heavily in making Central Michigan University accessible, affordable and supportive for all students, especially students of color,” Harris said in a statement. “Canceling the men’s track and field program has not and will not Undermine our ongoing work to make CMU more diverse, equitable and inclusive.”
Filing an investigative complaint does not imply that the Office of Civil Rights has ruled one way or another. It has conducted hundreds of public surveys at universities across the country.