No, colleges don't treat male and female athletes equally

A popular defense of the NCAA's model is to claim that changing it would mean schools would have to start giving athletes in men's and women's sports unequal treatment. However, this argument is disingenuous, because schools already give male athletes more financial benefits than female athletes.

In order to stay Title IX compliant, schools offer the same number of scholarships to men and women and make sure facilities are roughly similar for the two. But they don't spend the same amount on both genders.

On Tuesday, Texas director of women's athletics Chris Plonsky testified at the O'Bannon trial about this very issue.

So let's check in on just how equitable Texas was in the numbers it presented to the Department of Education for the 2012-13 school year:

  • Despite only 51 percent of its athletes being men, Texas spent 58 percent of its athletic aid on men during the 2012-13 school year.
  • Texas reported $65,309,552 in men's and women's team expenses that year. 71 percent of the spending went to men's sports (about $27 million more than women's sports).
  • Texas spent $8 million more on football than all of its women's sports combined.

Numbers like these can be a bit off at times, because every school reports them differently. But generally, it's clear that Texas spends far more on its men's sports than its women's sports, just like every other major sports school.

Now you might respond that this is fair, since Texas made $127 million more on its men's sports than its women's sports in 2013. That's absolutely a valid point. And it's why Judge Claudia Wilken declared that football and men's basketball make up their own market within the athletic department. Thus, the funding of other sports is not a concern in the O'Bannon trial.

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