Photo: Robert Cianflone (Getty images)

FAU falsely reported the number of women playing for its athletic programs on its 2017 report to the Education Department, according to the Palm Beach Post.

When the Post reached out to FAU officials to alert them to the discrepancies, a spokesperson informed them that the staff member who submitted the reports no longer works at FAU, though the official’s name that is on the final reports, Brian Battle, is presently employed by the university as a senior associate athletic director for internal operations. The FAU flak said that the ex-staffer referenced filed them on Battle’s behalf. Ultimately, the school spokesperson claimed that this was the first time the issue had been brought to FAU’s attention:

“We believe the cause was simply a clerical error,” Metcalf said. “FAU takes its responsibility to provide equitable athletic participation opportunities extremely seriously.”

The Post reported on Friday that in 2016, just 31 percent of FAU athletes were women, ranking dead last among Division I schools. Then, when it came time for the Owls athletic department to report its 2017 numbers, it claimed that the gap had been accounted for and that 51 percent of its athletes were women.

The boost came from imaginary athletes FAU added to its women’s track roster. Per the Post, the Owls reported 98 athletes on the squad. The roster, however, only showed 43 athletes, with the team picture showing 38 athletes. FAU applied those same 98 athletes to its cross country and indoor and outdoor tack squads, which totaled 222 roster spots.

While FAU boosted these numbers, it did not subsequently designate the proper amount of funds as mandated by Title IX policy. The Post reports that while roughly 46 percent of Owl athletes were women in 2017, FAU only spent 36 percent of its scholarship funds on those athletes. Title IX requires schools to maintain a difference no larger than one percent between the percentage of women athletes it employs and the percentage of scholarship dollars they are allotted.

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The 222 roster track and cross country spots dedicated to women athletes ranked tops in the nation among all Division 1 track programs in 2017. Well, it would have, had those women existed.

[Palm Beach Post]