FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Today the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan (ACLU) applauds the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights for launching an investigation into Central Michigan University’s (CMU) decision to both eliminate its men’s track and field program and then replace it with a golf program. The inquiry will examine whether there is or has been racial discrimination that violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.
Mark P. Fancher, racial justice project staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, has this statement:
“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.”
This federal investigation follows two letters the ACLU sent to CMU administrators last year that explained while track and field programs have been widely acknowledged as having provided pathways to progress for many Black students, golf has a history of racial exclusion. For generations, the training grounds for high level golfers have been country clubs that were often racially exclusive. In addition, the expense of the sport has been a barrier to many athletes of color. Consequently, golf is widely regarded as a “white” sport.