Thursday, October 29, 2009

Early talk of retaliation in firing of tennis coach

Last week, Ball State University in Indiana fired its women's tennis coach. Kathy Bull was in her 22nd year as head coach of the team. The firing, according to the athletic department, is the result of NCAA violations. Ball State, until earlier this month, had been on NCAA probation due to a textbook scandal several years ago. In their two-year probation period they self-reported 27 secondary violations. Two of those concerned women's tennis. But if these are the violations in question, we do not know.
One would think that such an abrupt firing in mid-season would be the result of more than two secondary infractions. (By way of comparison, the football team had 5 secondary violations during the same probation period.)
The surprise announcement has a few people thinking retaliation.
Bull had told Ball State's student newspaper that the university was under investigation for gender equity violations.
And this editorial questions whether her firing has anything to do with her complaints about Title IX violations and gender equity within athletics.
The gender equity complaints are still under investigation and Bull has not commented on her firing let alone whether she will pursue a wrongful termination lawsuit.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

In case you didn't believe us...'s true that most athletic departments do not make money and many are not even breaking even these days. The NCAA released the results of a study this week that looked at the numbers from 2004-2008. In DI, the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) consists of 119 schools. Only 15 reported a profit in 2008.
This was not surprising, but I have to say I was shocked (even though I shouldn't have been) by these numbers:
Median salary of FBS football coach: $1.095 million
Median salary of FBS men's b-ball coach: $822,000
Median salary of FBS women's b-ball coach: $277,000

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Lax growing in popularity

Hilbert College in New York will be adding men's and women's lacrosse next year, reflecting a trend--a couple actually. First lacrosse is at or near the top of the list of fastest-growing sports at both the high school and collegiate level and for both men and women. Second, even in the lousy economy, DIII schools are adding sports. It's smart move for a school that does not offer scholarships and is looking to draw more (tuition-paying) students. Lacrosse has historically been an eastern US sport and I am sure Hilbert will not have to recruit very far at all to put together competitive teams.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Women's wrestling coming to Texas

High school wrestling in Texas may not be as big as football but 7,000 high schoolers compete in the sport. But there are no intercollegiate wrestling programs in the state.
Wayland Baptist University in Plainview is changing that. The university will add men's and women's wrestling in 2010 and hopes to be a trend setter in terms of the presence of the sport in Texas colleges and universities.
Interestingly, this article about the additions makes little to-do about how it will most definitely be a trend setter in women's wrestling. Although we have seen other institutions add and consider adding women's wrestling which seems to be a sport on the rise (though the NCAA still has not listed it as an emerging sport!), there are still only 13 intercollegiate women's programs.
I found it somewhat appropriate that a Texas institution is instituting one of the first 20 programs nationwide given the issues the state has had with female wrestlers in the past. [See the excellent documentary Girl Wrestler for more on that.]

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Settlement Ends Title IX Suit Against FHSAA

The controversy in Florida that resulted when the state's athletic association that proposed a cost-saving schedule reduction for every sport except football and cheer was largely resolved over the summer, when the FHSAA rescinded the proposal in response to a lawsuit. Parents had sued the FSHAA arguing that that the proposal violated Title IX because it disproportionately affected girls' athletic opportunities. Exempting cheerleading along with football did not ensure that the cuts would equally affect girls' and boys' athletic opportunities, they argued, because even putting aside the issue of whether cheerleading counts as an athletic opportunity, football offers far more more athletic opportunities to boys than cheerleading does for girls.

After the proposal was rescinded, the parents continued to press the court for an injunction that would prevent FHSAA from making a similar decision again in the future. Yesterday, however, the plaintiffs announced that they would drop that lawsuit as part of a settlement under which FHSAA agreed to give advance notice to the plaintiffs' attorney, Professor Nancy Hogshead-Makar of Florida Coastal School of Law, before attempting to reinstate any of the rescinded the policy. FHSAA also agreed to pay the plaintiffs' attorneys fees and to conduct Title IX training for its members.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fields of discontent in Ohio

A parent has notified the ACLU which has sent a letter to the Chillicoth school district saying that they may be in violation of Title IX due to the discrepancies between the high school's softball and baseball fields. Which are the facilities in question remains a confusion because the baseball team's usual field has been out of commission for several years during building facilities renovations. In that time they have had access to two different off-campus sites. The softball team, however, does not have an on-campus field and their off-campus facility is sub par according to the letter and the complaining parent. They apparently don't even have bases when they practice which seems odd but the lack of proper dugouts and fencing are also problems and the team does not have the authority to maintain the field themselves.
No complaint has been filed with OCR yet and the school district has not formally responded.

Also apparently, according to the story linked above, a softball/baseball facilities complaint has just been filed with OCR regarding a Toledo school district.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

New Research Addresses Discrimination in Ticket Prices

A new report by researchers at the Wellesley Centers for Women examines the gender gap in ticket prices for Division I college basketball. Significantly, the report explains that ticket prices are set by athletic departments' own judgments of the value of women's sports, rather than by market forces. As the abstract states, "This distinction is critical because previous research shows that lower-priced events are perceived as lower quality and less worth watching or attending." In other words, athletic departments are creating, not responding to, lower demand and attendance for women's sports.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Quinnipiac v-ball not a sure thing

During the midst of court proceedings last spring, Quinnipiac University in Connecticut reinstated women's volleyball under pressure about their Title IX compliance and some questions about doctored rosters.

But the university went ahead with its original plan of adding competitive cheerleading. And with the high turnout for that "team," the university is claiming they are well in compliance now--overcompliant in fact, says the president. This all means that volleyball is not safe from being re-cut. He is pitting sports against academics saying that the money from cutting teams can be used to find 5 full-time professors. There's nothing that says you cannot prioritize academics. But what happens is that sports get pitted against each other as they started to last spring when some of the arguments we heard in court pitted the cheerleaders against the volleyball players.
And despite the fact that we were happy that volleyball got reinstated (and a little miffed at the way men's sports were dropped in a miscontextualized zero-sum game explanation), we here at the Title IX Blog were eager to see how a court would treat competitive cheer in a Title IX case.
We still may get that opportunity. Litigation is technically still ongoing and if volleyball does get re-dropped, we may see another lawsuit about the validity of counting cheerleading toward Title IX compliance.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Alaskan softball players cite inequities

Can't believe Sarah Palin who, during her vice-presidential campaign, espoused the benefits of Title IX, let her home town get away with inequitable treatment of female student-athletes.
But the Mat-Su School District, which includes the town of Wasilla, is facing a lawsuit brought by two softball players (and their parents). The facts, at this early stage, remain somewhat ambiguous but apparently some of the issues brought up in the filing are ones school officials have heard before. The issue of fields does not appear to the prominent one, or at least as prominent in most of the other cases about softball. Wasilla High School's field underwent renovations this past summer. There is some dispute over whether softball has access to an on-campus practice field like the baseball team does.
It seems that funding is the major issue here with the complainants saying that boys' teams receive greater funding than girls' teams. This is not an automatic violation, of course, but it goes on to say that softball has to pay for its own equipment and supplies. If boys' teams are provided these things by the school there is the potential for some trouble. But my guess after reading about economic woes and booster clubs stepping up, is that boys' team may also have to find their own equipment and supplies but that they have booster clubs that raise the money for them. But as we know by now, successful boys' booster clubs do not negate a school's Title IX responsibilities.