In 2016, Florida Atlantic University reported to the U.S. Department of Education that only 31 percent of its student-athletes were female, the lowest of all 127 schools participating at the highest level. Just one year later, that number jumped to 51 percent, an impressive feat. Also, it was entirely bullshit.
The Palm Beach Post discovered that the 20 percentage-point increase was completely inflated and based on the inclusion of fake students that don’t exist. As to how they discovered this, FAU didn’t exactly cover their tracks very well.
Take, for instance, FAU women’s track athletes. The school reported in 207 that there were 98. But a quick glance at the roster revealed, at most 43. Meanwhile, the team photo showed only 38. Furthermore, those “98” female athletes occupied 222 roster spots across FAU’s cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track teams. That would be more than any other school reporting.
The Palm Beach Post reached out to FAU about the discrepancy and received a response two weeks later from athletic department spokeswoman Katrina McCormack.
“We recognize the error, are reviewing the report in its entirety and are working with the (National Collegiate Athletic Association and Department of Education) to ensure the proper corrections,” she wrote.
She also noted that the person who prepared the report is no longer with the school. However, the Post noted that the report cites Brian Battle as the “reporting official” and Battle is still employed at FAU. Battle was promoted to the role of senior associate athletic director for internal operations roughly two months before the report was due. He also served as interim athletic director after the report’s submission for a few weeks.
Another school employee called the erroneous numbers “a clerical error,” which seems unlikely. Especially considering that the school was under pressure to deliver better female student-athlete numbers. The government uses these numbers to determine if schools are complying with sex-based discrimination laws., which makes it a legal concern as well.
Also, despite the reported increase in female student-athletes, there was no extra amount of scholarship money awarded for female athletes. That’s a big Title IX violation. The Post figured out that, at most, 46 percent of FAU student-athletes were female in 2017, which means only 36 cents of every scholarship dollar went to them, a clear violation of federal law.
UPDATE: FAU released a statement of their own Friday evening, refuting the report and saying they had already updated their data.
The conclusions drawn by the reporter are based on the 2016-17 EADA report filed by FAU. Following the reporter’s initial inquiry regarding information in the report, FAU became aware of inaccuracies in the data and alerted the reporter, prior to publication, of the clerical errors made by a former employee of the university. FAU offered to provide the updated data expeditiously to the reporter, but the reporter intentionally ran the story based on knowingly inaccurate data, rather than waiting for the updated report.
The university has now revised that information in a corrected report, which will be filed with the U.S. Department of Education using its correction procedures.
The revised report shows that in 2016-2017, female student-athletes received a balanced 49.0 percent of FAU’s athletic participation opportunities. This is consistent with FAU’s upward trend in female athletic participation opportunities since it added NCAA women’s beach volleyball in 2012, which was FAU’s third new varsity sport for women since 2000.
In regard to FAU’s allocation of athletic scholarships, the revised report shows that in 2016-2017, 43.1 percent of FAU’s student-athletes were female and they received 45.0 percent of FAU’s athletic scholarship dollars, for a 1.9 percent difference in favor of female student-athletes.