MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. — The president of Central Michigan University held a press conference Thursday morning to denounce allegations that the school's decision to eliminate its men's track and field program was racially motivated. A complaint against the university was filed in October 2021 with the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.
“The decision to eliminate men's track and field was based on financial compliance and student success factors," said CMU President Bob Davies Thursday morning.
"There was no racial discrimination involved.”
The school announced its decision to cut the program back in May 2020. At the time, the school said the decision was made due to changes in enrollment and the impact of COVID-19.
While the student scholarships were still honored, 36 student athletes were impacted.
The complaint was filed in October 2021 by Russell Dinkins, executive director of the Tracksmith Foundation.
"CMU's press conference was in line with what we expected from an institution under federal investigation due to its own decision making. The facts are that due to cutting track and field and replacing it with golf, CMU has sent a clear message that diversity is not an actual institutional priority for the university," he told FOX 17 in a message Thursday.
"If so, the university would recognize that replacing a sport that offered 100 Black educational opportunities over the last 12 years with a sport that is only 2% Black at the NCAA level is wrong."
After making the decision to eliminate the men's track and field program, the school would later start a men's varsity golf team.
“The accusation is contrary to CMU's core values and ongoing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. The decision to eliminate any well-loved program is always a last resort,” President Davies said Thursday.
The university has 15 days to respond to a list of questions from the OCR, after which point the OCR will make their findings.
"We will comply fully, and I strongly believe OCR will find no evidence to support claims of racial discrimination,” Davies elaborated.
According to the NCAA's online database, in 2021 there were 16,837 white male student athletes in outdoor track programs (all divisions), with 6,414 black student athletes involved.
When looking at men's golf (all divisions) though, there were 6,054 white male student athletes participating in programs, with just 146 Black student athletes participating.