Debate continues over Title IX's meaning


While both sides in the gender equity debate raging through (( college athletic departments continue to squabble over the meaning of Title IX, the officials who must meet these federal requirements carry twofold concerns.

Athletic administrators -- meeting in Baltimore yesterday for the first day of a two-day, NCAA-sponsored seminar on Title IX -- must identify new ways to bring the numbers of women who participate in athletics more in line with the overall campus population, while also finding the money to pay for the new sports.

In addition, these officials are caught between advocates of increased opportunities for women and college football coaches, who argue that gains for women come at the expense of their game and men's nonrevenue sports.

"I'm a little nervous about the future," said Robert Frederick, athletic director at Kansas.

He's not alone. With the force of recent court decisions that have strengthened Title IX, many schools across the country are joining the trend of adding women's programs.

Colorado, for instance, is adding volleyball and golf, and hopes to bring soccer on line in 1996-97. Central Connecticut State will add soccer and women's lacrosse in the next two years; San Jose State plans to add three more women's sports to join cross country in the next three years.

Starting this fall, Frederick said Kansas will offer scholarships in women's soccer and rowing to help bring the ratio of men and women who receive athletic scholarships to within 4 percent of the overall university's composition of 52 percent male and 48 percent female.

But unless the athletic department can receive more funding from the Kansas legislature and alumni, Frederick, who oversees a $13 million budget, says the school may have trouble down the road getting closer to the target number.

"We're not sure exactly where the additional revenues will come from, but we're determined we'll find it. We'll find a way to get it done," said Frederick.

It is at this point that the debate between women's advocates and college football coaches begins.

Chuck Neinas, executive director of the College Football Association, said recent court decisions -- including a March 29 federal judge's ruling that Brown University did not meet any of three Title IX compliance tests-- have effectively forced colleges to set up quotas for women and eliminate entire sports and football scholarships for men.

"Title IX is not an affirmative action program. It is an anti-discrimination program. What the judge is proposing is setting a quota," said Neinas.

Meanwhile, women's advocates say football coaches have cast them as villains in the gender equity debate, when, in fact, it is football, which with an 85-scholarship limit at the Division IA level, causes the problem, as it takes up grants and money.

"What's happening today is that the first choice of athletics officials is to cut men's nonrevenue sports and to blame it on gender equity. That's a little like saying, 'I'm going to take my ball and go home,' " said Donna LoPiano, executive director of the Women's Sports Foundation. "The football coaches have got to play team on this one. They're not. They're being selfish."

The debate will move to Capitol Hill, when the House subcommittee on postsecondary education is to hold hearings on Title IX May 9.

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