Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Does your AD know Title IX?

I was going to let this editorial in an online news source out of Athens, Georgia go unremarked upon despite the egregious misinterpretations of Title IX the author presents. Initially I thought the author to be perhaps a naive student journalist or an uninformed community member/fan. But this piece was written by former University of Georgia senior athletic director Dick Bestwick, who is also a former football coach.
So it is not surprising to hear him say, as many football coaches have and continue to do, that football should be exempt from the Title IX equation. In other words, they support proportionality so long as you don't have to count one of the teams. I don't think I have to really point out here that this sets up football players and programs as somehow "more equal" than everyone else--men and women.
But I was most surprised at Bestwick's interpretation of proportionality as a policy that mandates distribution of opportunities and money based on the gender breakdown of the undergraduate population. Proportionality is a policy that applies only to one aspect of Title IX compliance: accommodation of interests and abilities. How much money is spent is another category that is not subject to a proportionality standard. There is no formula for determining which gender or which team gets how much money, but there is a standard of equity that allows investigation into budget line items that seem to be providing greater benefits to male athletes over female athletes.
In other words, equipment budgets do not have to be equal for men and women so long as everyone is receiving the same quality of equipment. But there are areas where monies need to be distributed equally. For example, per diems need to be the same for male and female athletes--though the overall amount spent on a team will of course differ based on the size of the team.
That someone (formerly) in sports administration at a big-time athletics school does not know the difference between proportionality and equitable budgeting is worrisome.

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