Title IX evens score for female athletes

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While some might point to CSUN’s unused football field as a sign of decay, others see it as a testament to progress and an indication of equity between male and female athletes at CSUN.

The California chapter of the National Organization for Women sued the CSU system for sex discrimination in athletics in February of 1993.

Following the lawsuit, the CSU system signed a consent decree in October of that year that mandated a more equitable distribution of funding for male and female athletic scholarships and team budgets, proportionate to the male-female athlete ratio on campus.

CSUN’s football team was eliminated in 2001 in part to put the school in compliance with Title IX requirements, but also because the Athletic Department was operating at a nearly $1-million-a-year deficit.

The NOW lawsuit was made possible under existing federal Title IX legislation, the 1972 amendment to the United States Department of Education code that required public education institutions that received federal funding to prohibit discrimination under any educational program or activity.

“By its nature, Title IX is threatening to men’s sports,” said Staci Schulz, women’s basketball head coach. “It was easier for CSUN not to have a football team to keep in check (with Title IX requirements).”

Schulz said it is unfortunate that some schools end up eliminating men’s sports programs in order to comply with Title IX legislation, but the legislation has been beneficial to women athletes by providing them with a fair share of athletic scholarships.

She said the women’s basketball program, which enjoys a high profile on campus, is fortunate to receive funding and support services comparable to the men’s team and provides scholarships for everyone on the team roster.

“From the female side, we’re more protected than smaller men’s sports,” Schulz said.

Terry Davila, head coach of men’s and women’s soccer, said CSUN’s previous generation of athletes might have blamed Title IX for the elimination of the football program, but that attitude isn’t found amongst the current roster of players or coaches.

“I don’t consider Title IX a threat to men’s sports,” Davila said.

Davila said NCAA grants him 12 scholarships for female athletes and 9.9 scholarships for the men’s team.

The consent decree mandates CSU schools to fund scholarships within five percent of the total percentage of eligible male and female participants. Any disparity between the male-female ratio of eligible student athletes and the male-female scholarship ratio would result in the loss of federal funding.

Jeffrey Stork, women’s volleyball coach, said the elimination of the football program at CSUN freed up money that put the university more in equilibrium within NCAA guidelines.

Stork said 12 full scholarships are offered for women athletes while the men’s team offers 4.5.

He said there are 312 Division I women’s volleyball teams in the nation, compared to 21 men’s teams.

“There’s much more money spent on women’s volleyball,” Stork said. The same is true for high-school volleyball programs nationwide that also fall under Title IX requirements, Stork said.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, before 1971 only 18 percent of women had completed four or more years of higher education.

In 2004, according to the NCAA Graduation Rates Report, which tracks students for a six-year period, CSUN women athletes had a 70 percent graduation rate, compared with 63 percent for the general female student population.

CSUN male athletes had a 55 percent graduation rate, compared with 57 percent for the general male student population.

Annette Lynch, director of education and membership services for the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators, said there is a need for more female coaches, athletic directors, associate directors and compliance officers.

“There is a need for women in athletic administration who can oversee other athletic positions,” Lynch said.

“It’s not necessarily about money, but opportunity,” Lynch said. “The bottom line is about fairness.”

Julio Morales can be reached at julio.morales.605@csun.edu.