CMU Responds to Dept. of Education Office of Civil Rights Investigation
Central Michigan University is addressing racial discrimination allegations against their decision to cut a sports program.
In 20-20, the men’s track and field team was cut, and replaced with men’s golf.
A group not affiliated with the university filed a complaint against the school, saying they were discriminating against students based on race.
“I strongly believe OCR will find no evidence to support claims of racial discrimination,” said CMU President Bob Davies. “We understand the seriousness and the importance of this objective process.”
Davies says three factors went into their decision.
“The decision to eliminate men’s track and field was based on financial compliance and student success factors,” he said. “There was no racial discrimination involved.”
Of the thirty men on the team, there were three black students, three multiracial students and two international students the rest were white.
The school says the number of members continued to drop in the last decade.
There’s also the financial factor.
“To have a competitive track and field team, the cost is at least a million dollars,” said Davies. “In the MAC Conference for competitive golf, it’s about half of that.”
The school also said they have confidence their new golf coach, Kevin Jennings, will provide a “championship ring in one hand and a diploma in the other”.
“We have hired a golf coach that has outstanding credentials as a coach, championships in the conference level, competing on the national level,” said Davies. “He has done so through a process of identifying and having diverse golf teams.”
Davies said there are eight students who have already committed to the men’s golf team—with three being students of color.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan released a statement in favor of the Office of Civil Rights’ investigation.
The Racial Justice Project Staff Attorney for the ACLU of Michigan Mark P. Fancher said:
“Central Michigan University is a public institution that has an obligation to remain not only open to the diverse communities it serves, but to also provide students from those communities with a welcoming environment. The ACLU of Michigan is concerned that the university’s actions will become a deterrent to prospective students of color, regardless of whether they aspire to be track athletes. It’s one thing to eliminate track and blame it on university finances. It’s something else to then hear the concerns of the Black community, but to nevertheless replace track with one of the world’s whitest sports. What conclusion other than racial animus, or at least racial insensitivity can be drawn from that? It’s not hard to imagine that many Black students will conclude that a university that so blatantly dismisses the sincere concerns of their community will not provide a welcoming environment, which is inconsistent with the objectives of Title VI.”
CMU now has fifteen days to respond to the requests from the Office of Civil Rights.