Getting it right in college athletics

Why we should be talking about men and women when we talk about sports

By John Delf, Columnist

MOUNT BERRY, Ga. – Imagine a college sports environment where universities use their resources to excel in the Capital One Cup competition rather than trying merely to field a national championship football team. 

The Capital One Cup is awarded to the university that wins the most national championships, one for men’s sports and one for women’s, regardless of revenue. (You can learn more about the award at

In addition to a sizeable piece of hardware for the school’s trophy case, winning the Cup brings hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund scholarships, $400,000 in all.

I think the best way to benefit all student-athletes, rather than just some student-athletes, is to work toward winning the Capital One Cup. Universities could start by using the excess cash in their athletic budgets to invest in their women’s sports.

As far as the Capital One Cup is concerned, a women’s national championships in tennis and another for golf would be worth twice as much as one national football championship.

As we all know, Division I schools are focused primarily on men’s football and basketball. The revenue earned by Clemson football enabled that program to build a $55 million training mecca. And Alabama football’s facility features a hydrotherapy waterfall.

This is all well and good, especially for the big, monied football programs, but I have to wonder if it is money well spent. I think it would be more noble to invest in all sports – men’s and women’s – rather than the one or two that make the most money. Each and every student-athlete should be a priority, and I mean in real, lived ways, not just those grudgingly accommodated by Title IX.

In 2012, there were 341 universities that hosted women’s basketball teams. Out of this number, only 43 operated in the black, compared to 86 men’s programs. And though 21 women’s programs out-earned their male counterparts, only three of that number were able to turn a profit. And basketball is the most profitable women’s sport.

Women’s sports teams need investment to increase their overall success. Why shouldn’t schools invest some of their windfall earned by the men’s basketball and football program toward producing athletic dynasties on the women’s side?

The NCAA could do more to promote women’s sports by shining a bigger spotlight on the Capital One Cup. Perhaps creating and promoting a single, all-inclusive championship, one that combined men’s and women’s national championships would benefit the NCAA as a whole and all of its student-athletes.

By focusing on the Capital One Cup and overall success of an athletic program, regardless of gender, the NCAA could encourage schools to spread resources more equally across their athletic programs.

Most importantly, this shift in emphasis could effect better distribution of resources, bringing women’s sports more to the forefront of national attention. Capital One: What’s in your athletic department’s trophy case?

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