In the 2022 fiscal year, Miami University spent twice as much money on men’s sports than on women’s sports, according to financial reports submitted by Miami to the NCAA. Miami reported operating expenses of nearly $19 million on the men’s side of athletics compared to less than $9.5 million on the women’s side.
Despite Title IX reaching its 50th anniversary in 2022, many universities fail to meet its guidelines. At Miami University, the athletic department strives to reach equity in all areas for women’s sports. With 334 male and 344 female athletes across eight men’s teams and 11 women’s teams in 2023, Miami has to carefully evaluate the athletic program to ensure that they are compliant with Title IX.
Title IX was enacted in 1972, primarily to prevent discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs and activities, including those related to athletics. Any university that receives federal funding, which includes Miami, is required to be in compliance with Title IX, such as by providing equal athletic opportunities for men and women, accommodating the athletic interests of students regardless of gender and providing equal opportunities, resources and facilities among other things.
The amount of money spent on men’s vs. women’s sports is not required to be equal in most areas, but Title IX requires colleges and universities to provide equal benefits, opportunities and treatment for both men and women to participate in sports.
Jennifer Gilbert, an associate athletic director and deputy Title IX coordinator for Miami, said the university strives to give men and women student athletes equal opportunities.
“My responsibility is to make sure that male and female student athletes have an equal opportunity to be successful,” Gilbert said. “It doesn’t mean equal, but it has to be equitable.”
Financial disparities between sports
Camber Hayes, a senior soccer player at Miami said she believed that men and women athletes at Miami are generally treated in a fair and equitable way. The Miami Student conducted a review of Miami’s athletic expenditures as it relates to Title IX. In the financial reports for the fiscal year (FY) 2022, however, the most recent publicly available data, the university spent less both on women’s sports overall and per participant.
Overall expenditures are skewed by football, which had 133 total participants in FY22, and a budget of more than $10 million. While football accounted for the greatest overall disparity between men’s and women’s sports, unequal funding existed between more directly comparable teams, too, such as men’s and women’s basketball or baseball and softball.
For example, in FY22, Miami spent nearly double on travel per away game for men’s basketball than it did for women’s basketball. Overall, Miami spent about 50% more per athlete on men’s basketball than women’s basketball. Similarly to basketball, the university spent more than three times more on equipment per participant for baseball than it did on softball.
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In some specific instances, female athletes received more funding. For example, an average of $250 was spent per athlete in women’s track and field and cross country, more than the per-athlete cost of meals for men’s track and field and cross country. However, the number pales in comparison to the nearly $1,800 was spent on meals for each athlete on the football team.
Miami employs seven head coaches for men’s sports and eight head coaches for women’s sports. On average, head coaches for men’s sports are paid more than double head coaches for women’s sports. The same is true for assistant coaches.
Largely because of football, sometimes other men’s sports have to take a back seat for Miami to stay in compliance with Title IX.
“Our men’s track team doesn’t have the same number of scholarships as our women’s track team,” Gilbert said. “The men swimmers and track athletes probably don’t get some of the same treatment … because we have to make up for the 110 football athletes.”
Men’s basketball required $199,589 in travel expenses in 2022, while women’s basketball required $117,607. Men’s basketball traveled for 14 out of 32 games, while women’s basketball traveled for 14 out of 31. Both teams traveled for 14 games, with the women’s team traveling further on average, including a trip to West Palm Beach, Florida.
As for expenses such as travel, Assistant Athletic Director Liz Bath explained that any differences have logical explanations. For example, the men’s team has one more player and one more coach. Additionally, she explains that the men’s team required more food when they traveled.
“This is going to be a men versus women thing,” Bath said. “Men eat more than women. It’s just the fact that male athletes need more than the female athletes. Food is going to be a huge part of that. It also is going to depend on the schedule for each year. If the women are traveling more or the men are traveling more, it’s going to sway one side.”
Hayes felt that one place where Miami could do better is in its promotion of men’s versus women’s athletics. Gilbert believes this to be a fair criticism.
“Our athletic staff in the marketing and promotions department has been tasked with increasing revenue,” Gilbert said. “In order to increase revenue, that means they’ve got to spend all their time on ticketed sports.”
Miami has five ticketed sports: football, hockey, men’s basketball, women’s basketball and volleyball. Because more male sports are ticketed, Gilbert said there are significantly more social media promotions on the men’s side. She also said that the athletic department lost a lot of communications staff due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so a lot of social media responsibility has fallen to assistant coaches for certain sports.
Title IX requires institutions to spend scholarship funds proportionally to the amount of male and female athletes. For example, if women made up 40% of student-athletes, then they would need to receive 40% of available scholarship funds. With this stipulation, institutions are not required to spend equal amounts of money on male and female athletes.
In 2022, Miami put more than $11 million toward scholarships for athletes, with male athletes receiving nearly 60% of the total. Per unduplicated athlete (athletes that play two or more sports but are counted as one in expenditures data), male athletes received $22,119.20, with female athletes receiving $18,702, a difference of more than 15%. Women athletes at Miami received less total scholarship money and less scholarship money on average than men athletes.
Gilbert explained that this difference can arise from the number of in-state female athletes compared to the number of out-of-state male athletes.
“Women’s sports teams are all funded at the NCAA maximum,” Gilbert said. “We offer the maximum number that the NCAA will allow us to offer to all of our women’s sports. Even though we’re spending a little more money on men’s scholarships, a lot of that has to do with out-of-state athletes. Quite a few of our women’s sports are really strong in the state of Ohio, but we tend to recruit out of the state of Ohio for football, men’s basketball, stuff like that.”
At Miami, many women’s athletic programs have seen great success in recent years. The field hockey team has won 13 straight Mid-American Conference (MAC) titles, counting regular season and tournament championships separately. Miami softball has made the NCAA tournament every year since 2021. The synchronized skating program is one of the best in the country.
The differences in funding are impossible to ignore. But according to Gilbert, men’s and women’s athletes at Miami have equal opportunities to succeed.
“Whenever we make a major financial decision we make sure it won’t tip the scales too far in favor of the women or in favor of the men,” Gilbert said. “We work hard to make sure men and women athletes at Miami are treated fairly, that they’re given equitable experiences at our school.