Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Resolution (??) at FGCU

The investigation into Title IX violations in the Florida Gulf Coast University athletic department has ended with no finding, "technically," of wrongdoing. Apparently though the independent auditor made recommendations to the department of things it can do to better. But it is all very vague, and I have found no specifics regarding these recommendations.
The news I found interesting regarding the investigation was that the previously anonymous complaints were in fact filed by former AD Merrily Dean Baker who started the department and laid out a plan to make it equitable from the start. Baker wrote a memo that outlines complaints from female coaches and student-athletes. I am not sure when this information was revealed and by whom but her involvement has become a focus of this story.
The memo, which sparked the investigation, has created a lot of controversy, with athletic director Carl McAloose calling most of the allegations either exaggerated or baseless. Others in the department acknowledge there are issues but wish they had been discussed and investigated internally rather than in such a public way that, some suggest, may damage the school's reputation.
Basically Baker is being painted as overzealous, sticking her nose into business that isn't hers anymore, and generally making trouble where there is none. What I think: her notable career and her pioneering efforts in women's athletics and her continued advocacy on behalf of women's sports make her an easy target and the object of scorn by people who probably think things like, "you have women's sports; they have equitable opportunities; we give them a budget; what more do you want from us?" And of course people like Baker can look at a situation in athletic departments and know equity and Title IX compliance is more than just number of male and female athletes. It's hiring decisions, travel budgets, access to services, and on and on.
I think there are probably problems in that department; maybe ones that will get ignored now that the investigation is over. And certainly I see McAloose's reaction to the memo (as revealed in the Q&A linked above) as indicative of the tenor of the department; I do not think anyone will be stepping forward any time soon to issue any kind of complaint about equitable treatment.
McAloose is the one who comes off looking bad. When asked how practice times for basketball are divided he said the reporter would have to ask someone else because he didn't know. You're the athletic director at a school that has just been investigated for Title IX violations and you don't know how access to prime practice times are awarded. That is a problem. The Q&A is littered with other "I don't know," "I don't remember," and "I don't care" type responses.


gmiraculous said...

The FGCU investigation was completed by the FGCU internal auditor, not by an independent auditor.

The Fort Myers News Press has additional details and copies of the allegations and report at:


Anonymous said...

Check out Merrily Dean Baker's come-back today at the following website (copy also pasted in below):


Guest commentary: Baker sets record straight on FGCU Title IX complaint

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Staff-written editorials ought to, at least, bear responsibility to provide accurate information. Please allow me to set your record straight.

First, I am not the "author" of Title IX; that would be the U.S. Congress; I merely served on a committee that drafted the initial Title IX Guidelines for the Office of Civil Rights.

Second, I did not file a formal Title IX complaint against Florida Gulf Coast University; that would have gone to the Office of Civil Rights, not to the university Office of the President.

I reached out to the university, on behalf of a group of university employees who approached me with concerns, with a document of expressed concerns that begged to be addressed.

Third, I did deny knowledge of the FGCU case to news media in June (not January, as your editorial stated); high standards of ethical behavior dictated that denial, at that time; i.e., it was not my place to "go public" about university business.

Fourth, I have never "praised athletic director Carl McAloose for executing gender balance groundwork," either publicly or privately.

Fifth, I did not "exaggerate reports of pay differences to bolster (her) case." Both President Pegnetter and university ombudsman Dr. McKinney know that I stated up front when I presented the document of concerns to them that I could not attest to the reliability of the numbers included in the document; all I could do was report the numbers provided me.

My "shock and disappointment about FGCU going public" has only to do with needless public exposure of sensitive personnel issues at the expense of the associated individuals. The entire motivation of the outreach made on behalf of a number of athletics department professional staff members was to help the university identify serious issues so they could be remediated. I was merely the conduit, the messenger; the issues were not my issues but the issues of others, too afraid to speak up by themselves; their issues were, and remain, compelling issues.

It took courage for those people to stand up, speak out and ask for help in getting the serious issues and realities addressed. It took courage for me to respond to the outreach, collate the concerns and issues and share them with appropriate university officials. We certainly expected the university to have the courage to recognize, admit to, address and remediate the problems. Instead, they chose wholesale denial. That certainly is an identifiable institutional strategy, as is the strategy to divert attention from the real issues by attacking the source rather than the issues.

However, neither of those strategies solves problems, remediates shortcomings or makes the institution "do better and be better."

As a champion believer that everyone is entitled to his/her opinion, I, too, have my own opinions. In this case, my opinion is this: A bureaucratic cover-up does not change reality.

© 2007 Naples Daily News and NDN Productions. Published in Naples, Florida, USA by the E.W. Scripps Co.

kris said...

Thanks to gmiraculous for pointing out my error regarding the position of the auditor and also to anonymous for sharing Baker's very well articulated response. She effectively criticized the media and the institution for what appears to be their many respective failures on this issue.

Anonymous said...

obviously the person who wrote this article has no idea the role of an athletic director and should probably never write another article again. The End.

Anonymous said...

obviously the person who wrote this article has no idea the role of an athletic director and should probably never write another article again. The End.