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Recognizing STUNT for Title IX would benefit USF

Published: Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 22:02

Cheerleading may not be considered a valid Title IX sport, but USF's STUNT team has the possibility of being recognized as one by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

STUNT incorporates many elements of competitive cheerleading, including dance, stunts, tosses and tumbling, but does not participate in sideline activities.

According to the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights (OCR), this distinction may qualify them to meet the Title IX requirements for a sports team. They seem to be in the right direction — a Title IX

representative was present at a USF STUNT team match Friday.

STUNT offers a worthwhile sport that can balance out Title IX disparities, a problem USF has made news for, but still has obstacles to overcome if it wishes to earn NCAA recognition where similar attempts have failed.

The OCR also requires that Title IX sports offer scholarships, recruit, have a regular practice season and conduct state, conference or national championships. While STUNT appears to be well on its way to meeting these requirements, similar activities such as competitive cheer have failed to meet Title IX rules in the past.

According to ncaa.org, a U.S. district court in Connecticut ruled that Quinnipiac University could not count ts competitive cheerleading team as a varsity sport because the cheerleading governing body that hosted

competitions failed to create a consistent scoring system and did not offer the same quality of opportunities as other varsity sports.

Though the ruling dictated that this specific case of cheerleading was not a sport, if STUNT is able to meet the requirements for competition and comparable opportunities, there is no reason why it shouldn't qualify as a Title IX sport, a declaration that could benefit USF.

On Apr. 25, 2011, USF was featured in a front-page New York Times story on gender-equity deception in college sports. USF counted each female athlete participating in cross-country, and indoor and outdoor track on all three team rosters to comply with the Title IX proportionality rule.

USF has the opportunity to meet other Title IX requirements, such as demonstrating a history of expanding opportunities for women or proving that they are meeting the athletic interests and abilities of students, and adding STUNT would meet all three of these. 

Not only would adding another women's team help a larger proportion of USF's 57 percent female population, according to the College Board, but  it would also expand opportunities for women and meet the interests of students who would prefer to try out for a competitive cheerleading team instead of a spirit squad.

Since creating a female team would also require the creation of another male team, it could even be an opportunity for USF to create another NCAA men's team, such as wrestling, which garners great interest at the high school level. STUNT could potentially offer a win-win situation for men and women — as well as USF in fitting Title IX requirements.

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