Page 2-The Michigan Daily/New Student Edition-Sports - Thursday, September 9, 1993
ich drops men'sgymnsics
Women's soccer elevated to varsity to comply with Gender Equity Act
by Ken Davidoff
and Ken Sugiura
Daily Sports Editors
On March 22 the Michigan Athletic
Department announced the end of var-
sity status for the men's gymnastics
program, and in conjunction elevated
women's soccer from the club to varsity
level following the 1993-94 season.
The main reasons cited for the
discontinuation of men's gymnastics
are the University's desire to comply
with the Big Ten's gender equity policy,
and the decreasing numberof gymnasts
participating in Michigan high schools.
The University will honor the scholar-
ships of those gymnasts who will not
graduate following the 1994 season.
The GenderEquityAct, accepted by
the Big Ten last June, mandates that
member schools increase their percent-
age of women athletes to 40 percent by
Wolverine gymnast Raul Molina performs on the parallel bars. Michigan
decided to drop the men's program due to the lack of participation in
Michigan high schools and to comply with the Big Ten's Gender Equity Act.
The act states that all Big Ten schools must increase their portion of women
athletes to 40 percent by 1997.
The Michigan High School Athletic
Association dropped sponsorship of
boys' gymnastics in 1979, but since
then, the sport has continued under the
direction of a gymnastics coaches asso-
The number of competing high
school teams has steadily declined to
the point where the recent state meet
included just five fully rostered teams.
However, while the number of stu-
dents and teams involved in high school
gymnastics has declined, participation
in club gymnastics has been on the rise
during the same time period. There are
currently approximately 4,500 private
boys' gymnastics clubs registered with
the United States Gymnastics Federa-
tion (USGF) - a significant increase
according to USGF Men's Program
Director Robert Cowan -and another
10,000 unregistered programs.
"Today, kids need to train longer at
a sport than three months, and most
high schools can'tprovide that," Michi-
gan men's gymnastics coach Bob
The Board in Control of Intercolle-
giate Athletics, the governing body for
Michigan athletics, made its recom-
mendation to Athletic Director Jack
Weidenbach in February. Weidenbach
informed Darden of the board's find-
ings March 1.
Themen's gymnastics program, long
having been considered "on the bubble,"
was originally designated to end upon
the completion of this season. After
Darden asked for a "window of oppor-
tunity" at a March 4 meeting, the board
granted him a reprieve and allowed the
program to continue through 1994.
Darden stressed his desire to be pro-
active throughout the process. How-
ever, he also said he felt that the board's
options are not restricted to eliminating
"The concern is that all the issues
have not been fully realized and looked
into," Darden said.
One possibility Darden said he felt
was feasible was "tiering," a solution
that would facilitate the desire for gen-
der equity as well as deal with cost
containment, a problem many athletic
Penn State is the only Big Ten school
that currently uses tiering. This process
allows schools to partially fund certain
sports and only compete on a regional
University President James Duder-
stadt recommends this solution for
"A trend in athletics is tiering, we
realize, and we're aware of it, and we
want to be a viable program when tier-
ing becomes a reality," Darden said.
"We want to be able to be lea-rs in
Board members, while in support of
further study of it, said tiering is not an
"I think (tiering is) always a con-
tinuing possibility," said Richard
Kennedy, vice president for govern-
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ment relations, secretary of the Univer-
sity and board member. "And I think
that's one of the considerations that'll
shape the whole program in intercolle-
"How do we accommodate the
student's interests in a whole range of
sports? You can't make them all varsity
sports, but how do we tier them in such
a way that you maximize the opportuni-
ties for participation? I think that's one
of the guiding principles the board is
looking at. What's the best way to make
participation available to the widest
group of students, men and women?
"I don't think we've (the board)
thought about it in thecontext of tiering
rightnow.... First, we've got tofindout
where it's (men's gymnastics) gonna
go, whether it's going to stay or not stay
as an intercollegiate sport. Then the
question of tiering comes up, and tier-
ing is going to be applicable to a whole
range of sports. How many of these
programs at that level can be supported
is another question the board is going to
have to face."
One other option Duderstadt has
mentioned is instituting a student fee to
be given to the Athletic Department.
Currently, the Athletic Department re-
ceives no money from the University's *
This fee would allow Michigan to
fund more sports - some partially -
instead of cutting them. Some sports
that could benefit from this fee would
be crew, lacrosse, men's soccer and
Board members also cited the even-
tual separation between the NCAA and
gymnastics as a reason for terminating
the men's program. The NCAA de-
cided this past January that it would
only sanction sports that have at least40
participants. Rightnow, 36 schools have
squads. Due to the new rule change, the
NCAA allotted a two-year moratorium
on sponsorship terminations, meaning
all sports would be safe through the
1995 season. After this point, however,
men's gymnastics will be in serious
"It's a real blow to men's gymnas-
tics at Michigan," former men's coach
Newt Loken said. Loken ran the Michi-
gan men's gymnastics program from
1948 to 1983, compiling a 240-72-1
record. "I don't think anyone wants to
see the sport dropped. It's a sad day for
the coaches and the athletes."
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