WSU among Ohio’s best for Title IX

40th anniversary of landmark gender-equity legislation in college athletics shows gap closing, but funding still wide

Forty years after the passage of the federal landmark Title IX legislation — that ushered in a new era of gender equity in college athletics — universities in southwest Ohio rank among some of the state’s best in compliance.

A review of federal education records by the Dayton Daily News revealed that of Ohio’s 54 four-year public and private institutions that field men and women athletic teams, only 10 comply with the Department of Education’s most difficult criteria: having the percentage of male and female athletes closely match the school’s general gender population. Wright State University stands out as the best example as its gender percentages are nearly identical to the general student population.

The other regional universities that performed well with gender equity include Cedarville University, Cincinnati Christian University, Miami University, University of Dayton, University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. Title IX was passed in 1972 to ensure no one is denied participation or benefits on the basis of gender from any educational program that receives federal funding.

According to the Title IX’s most difficult criteria, or first prong, female and male athletes proportionality must only vary with the general student population by 5 percent. But historically Wright State, Miami and UD have held themselves to a higher standard, in most years allowing the numbers to vary by only 1 percent.

In the 2010-11 year, Wright State stood out among all other programs in the state for their numbers. The percentage of female and male students matched exactly with the number of participants of each in sports: 55 percent females and 45 percent males. WSU is one of few schools with an equal number of men and women’s sports (7) and have one of the smallest percentage point differences in student aid and recruiting expenses. WSU female athletes received $1.4 million in scholarships with $86,863 spent on recruiting, compared to $1.1 million in scholarships awarded to male athletes and $115,117 spent on recruiting.

Why Title IX works at WSU

Wright State has continued its commitment to gender equity and received an award in 2008 from the NCAA for their efforts, said Maureen Cooper, WSU’s senior associate athletic director. For more than 20 years, Wright State has had a gender equity committee that reviews the athletic department to make sure they continue their tradition of equability.

“It’s easier for an institution that doesn’t sponsor football,” Cooper said. “We don’t have to look too closely at adding or eliminating sports.”

As a school that does maintain a football team, Miami had a bit of a tougher time acclimating to Title IX. While in 2010 Miami’s proportionality numbers matched exactly: 47 percent males and 53 percent females, men received 60 percent of student aid with $5.2 million with women receiving $3.4 million. The men’s teams were also allotted more recruiting money, $383,947 compared to $158,334 for women.

Miami has added 11 women’s teams, but according to athletic director Brad Bates, had a problem finding funds for those programs over time. In 2010, Miami spent $3.4 million in game-day operating expenses, about $300,000 less than WSU and UD combined. Of Miami’s total operating expenses, $2.4 came from men’s teams and $1 million from women’s teams.

Through financial struggles, Miami has always maintained the importance of gender equity in its athletics.

“It’s just what we should be doing. It’s something that is so basic to what we should be providing,” Bates said.

Gender equability has been on the minds of UD’s athletic department as far back as 1935 when its College for Women opened.

Before women were even allowed admittance into all classes at the university, the Women’s Athletic Association was founded to encourage the 29 female students to participate in various athletic activities. The program offered basketball, hiking, riding, tennis and volleyball.

Since then, the WAA kept making strides in women’s athletics, beginning intercollegiate competitions with local colleges, as well as receiving money from the university to help with officials’ expenses. In 1963, the women’s program received a budget from the UD athletic department to pay coaches’ salaries, expand the program and cover expenses related to travel, awards and uniforms.

UD preceded legislation

Before Title IX was enacted, UD elevated women’s basketball into a varsity sport in 1968, said athletic director Tim Wabler.

He noted the university’s intramural and club sports have always been strong, so elevating those women’s sports to varsity was easy. He said that UD focuses less on Title IX requirements, and more on being gender equitable.

“We decided some time ago that we were going to be a gender equitable operation irrespective of what the laws were,” Wabler said.

Pat Jayson, a former coach and athletic trainer at UD, and Ann Meyers, one of the Flyers most decorated basketball and volleyball players, were early beneficiaries of Title IX. Meyers led the UD women’s basketball team to the small division national crown of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics in 1980. She is among 27 collegiate female athletes who are featured in the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators’ “Title IX Trailblazer Tribute Video Contest.”

Jayson, was a three-sport UD athlete in the 1960s before joining as a faculty member in 1973. She recalled the struggles for UD’s women’s program.

“We weren’t being funded or getting scholarships,” she said. “It wasn’t until the late 70s-early 80s that we got meal money and were reimbursed for gas. It’s a hard transition for a private university because there wasn’t state money that could be pulled out from anywhere.”

Jayson coached field hockey, softball, tennis and served as assistant basketball coach during her 11 years at UD and said they were not paid for about 10 years. Along with coaching, Jayson was the university’s first female athletic trainer and one of the first three in Ohio.

Meyers played from 1976-80 and said that during that time the women’s teams saw the beginning of the money starting to flow into the different departments.

“This was the time when money was starting to be allocated to the programs. I was on a partial academic/athletic scholarship,” Meyers said.

She recalled while there were few amenities provided for female athletes, it did not bother them because they did not know what they were missing or being denied.

“It wasn’t like how it is today,” Meyers said. “We didn’t know any different so it was fine.”

Men’s programs cut

Miami, UD and WSU have had to drop men’s programs, but officials do not blame Title IX for the cuts.

Wright State dropped men’s volleyball in 1979 and wrestling in 1989. Cooper said wrestling was dropped because of high cost of insurance, coupled with low fan interests, which also cost the men’s volleyball team.

Two years ago, the university attempted to sponsor men’s indoor track, but the addition made the proportionality number too high on the men’s side. WSU was also unable to find the extra scholarship money needed for the new male athletes to counter those already given to women, so the program ended after one season.

Funding was also the issue for Miami when they eliminated the men’s tennis, soccer and wrestling teams in the 1990s. Bates said financing athletic teams is difficult for a university with a football program, since it is the most expensive at nearly $7 million, which also matches the revenue it generated in 2010.

“Football is a very expensive sport,” he said. “One out of every five men at Miami is a football player, but the investment and return extends far beyond the expense.”

At UD, Jayson said although there was some animosity from the men’s programs, she worked with a lot of “good guys”.

“I was lucky that I worked with a lot of guys who handled it well,” Jayson said. “We got good support from our men’s coaches.”

UD turned it’s men’s water polo and wrestling teams into club teams in the 1990s, but Wabler said that Title IX only indirectly impacted those sports for the university.

“It was more of an indirect impact because there were no schools sponsoring those sports in our conference, so it wasn’t cost efficient to have to send them far away to compete,” he said.

Future of Title IX

Since President Richard Nixon signed the legislation on June 23, 1972, Title IX has increased the popularity of women’s athletics. In 1972, there were just 31,852 female athletes on U.S. college campuses. Since then, the female participation has risen to more than 211,000 collegiate athletes in 2010, compared to nearly 193,000 in 2003, according to the Department of Education. That means that per year, an average of 2,693 more opportunities were added for women to play in college.

In Ohio, 8,491 women participated in college athletics in 2010, compared to the 8,036 in 2003.

Girls participating in high school sports has increased 1,079 percent since 1972, according to ESPN, from 294,015 to 3.1 million in 2011.

Even with the increased participation and support for women’s athletics, Jayson still sees a long road ahead.

“It’s not men against women,” said Jayson, who played field hockey, basketball and tennis in her hall of fame career for the Flyers. “It’s we’re evolving. We’re building better programs; and we’re getting better athletes. It (Title IX) is still a positive thing, but we still have a long way to go.”

Women represented 60 percent, or about 12 million students, of all U.S. college students in 2010, yet only 41 percent of athletes. Nationally, women received 45 percent of student aid.

In Ohio, 52 percent, or about 160,000 students, are female, though they represent only 39 percent of athletes. Ohio follows closely behind the national average in student aid, awarding female athletes 43 percent, or $46 million in scholarships in 2010.

Wabler said the change in demographics of college students should be considered when evaluating the impact of Title IX today.

“When Title IX was created, it was roughly 65 percent male and 35 percent females attending college, but now that has begun to reverse,” he said. “So the question becomes are the same regulations needed 40 years ago needed today, or do they need to be amended for today’s reality.”

Cooper said she would not necessarily amend the law, but believes something should be put into place so men’s sports do not have to be eliminated.

“The NCAA needs to take an active role to give assistance to institutions to create female opportunities rather than diminish male opportunities,” Cooper said.

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