Leveling The Playing Field

From the look of the frowns and tears in their eyes, you wouldn't believe the Providence College baseball team just won a shot at the playoffs. For team captain Angelo Siminiello, the dream season is ending with a heartbreaking finish, CBS News Correspondent Scott Pelley reports.

Siminiello is upset that men's baseball is being dropped as a sport by the school, just the latest in a growing number of casualties of Title IX, the federal law that guarantees equal opportunity to women athletes.

"I was shocked," Siminiello says. "I was just shocked. People were utterly upset."

Administrators at Providence had thought they were providing equality all along. Currently Providence offers 11 female sports and 11 male sports, and scholarships are split evenly between men and women.

But in this case, 50-50 is against the law. In order for schools to comply with Title IX, the gender breakdown of its athletic teams must match the makeup of the student body. Of the 3,600 students here, 57 percent are women. So, providence could add women's teams or cut the men's. The ax fell on the baseball team.

"I came here and had four great years," Siminiello says. "And the younger guys, they were on the brink of having four great years here. Now, they're not going to have it."

But the women will. Next season, Coach Dana Fulmer's softball team will be the only ball game on campus. They get more scholarships and more resources as a direct result of cutting the men's team.

"It was an emotional and difficult time," Fulmer says. "We're always going to be happy for anything, as a coach and as a team, that helps your program. You're happy, you know. But at the cost of another program, it's bittersweet"

The final season of baseball at Providence has been more than bittersweet for the players. It's been an education in modern civil rights law.

"I don't think it's right," player Mike Scott says. "I think it's defeating the whole purpose of what Title IX is meant for."

But Donna Lopiano, of the Women's Sports Foundation, says don't blame Title IX. She says smaller schools like Providence shouldn't spend their money trying to compete with larger schools. She says for prestige, they're playing out of their league.

"Everybody in women's sports is saying it is wrong to bring previously advantaged gender, male athletes down to the level of the previously disadvantaged," says Lopiano. "[But] there's no question that [the schools'] aspirations outpace their resources. And so, they're making decisions based purely on status, not their ability to pay, not their ability to get revenues."

Providence argues revenue is part of the point of playing in the big leagues. The big crowds and TV money that men's basketball hauls in, for example, pay for both men's and women's sports.

"You don't have the money to do everything that you'd like to do and be all thngs to all people," Providence Athletic Director John Marinatto says. "Just create new sports teams and add new scholarships. So, you're fighting a battle that's impossible to win."

Despite this weekend's win, the Providence baseball team has been shut out once and for all. To keep their baseball dreams alive, many Providence baseball players say they're transferring to other schools, where they can keep playing ball.