THE MICHIGAN DAILY NEW STUDENT EDITION SPORTS THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 1994
Spared another year, men gymnasts overcome with successful season
By JOSH KARP
Daily Sports Writer
All good things must come to an
end. Unfortunately for the No. 7
Michigan men's gymnastics team, this
was to be their fate last season. After
a rich 50-year tradition, the team was
going to be dropped. The reason for
doing so can be summed up in two
words - gender equity.
If you ask 10 different people to
define gender equity, you'll get 10
different responses. Michigan wanted
a 60-40 ratio of male and female
athletes. To do so, the athletic depart-
ment proclaimed men's gymnastics
finished, and gave woman's soccer
"That goes totally against the phi-
losophy of gender equity," Michigan
coach Bob Darden argued. "You don't
provide women opportunity by cutting
men. That's strictly a numbers game
and can be easily seen through."
Much to Darden's dismay, the de-
cision was almost definite. But rather
than end their history quietly, the Wol-
verines came together and had one of
their best seasons ever.
The Michigan faithful expected
little of a squad which had finished the
previous year 9-14. In its first meet
against No. 13 Minnesota, however,
Michigan shocked the critics, winning
"(The victory) was great," Darden
said. "That pretty much put the stamp
on the season."
The Wolverines continued their
stellar performances, prevailing
against No. 10 Penn State 278.85-
277.05 and placing first in the eight-
team Michigan Invitational. But the
biggest accomplishment was at No. 2
Ohio State. Although the Buckeyes
won the meet with a 284.80, Michi-
gan set a new standard, scoring a
"We lit things up when we walked
into that gym and (Ohio State) was not
prepared for it," Darden said.
Garnering success was something
the Wolverines were getting used to-
that is until the Big Ten Championship
arrived. With plans of placing second
and challenging the Buckeyes for first,
Michigan fell apart and placed fifth.
"It was just one of those things that
got away from us," Darden said. "(You)
hate to have it happen at a competition
like that, but it did. It wasn't in the cards
that particular day."
The Wolverines faced disappoint-
ment again when it qualified to the
Eastern Regional in West Point, N.Y.
Michigan had to finish in the top three
from its region to advance to the NCAA
Championship-Michigan took fourth
place, and not only concluded its sea-
son, but its very existence.
The only bright spot for the squad
was two of its gymnasts, namely se-
niors Rich Dopp and Raul Molina.
Both Dopp and Molina moved on to
the NCAA Championship individu-
ally in high bar and floor exercise,
respectively. Dopp placed 16th and
The sun was then supposed to set
on men's gymnastics. But after re-
viewing the situation, the athletic de-
partment decided to reinstate the
Wolverines program, at least until the
meaning of gender equity could be
Michigan will temporarily keep its
varsity status but will lose the 6.3 schol-
arships it receives once the recipients
graduate. This limits progress because
the Wolverines can't recruit the blue-
chip gymnasts it needs. But just having
the program back is good enough.
"(I feel) positive that we get another
year," junior Bob Young said. "We all
have a positive outlook on next year.
We're going to be really strong."
Young has good reason to believe
so. The strong nucleus of Young, Dopp,
Molina and senior Brian Winkler is
back. Sophomores Flavio Martins and
Jason MacDonald, who both obtained
invaluable experience last season, are
also big assets to the team. And Michi-
gan has the 1994 Big Ten Coach of the
Year in Darden, which he shared with
Ohio State's Peter Kormann.
"It's the guys on the team that really
deserve the credit," Darden said.
But more than recognition, the
Wolverines deserve a future, which they
now have. For Michigan gymnastics is
one good thing that must never come to
All Things Equal
The Gender Equity Act
adopted by the Big Ten in 1992
mandates that schools
increase their percentage of
women athletes to 40 percent
The athlete composition at
Michigan is 65 percent male
and 35 percent female.
The plan to drop men's
gymnastics was postponed
after intense lobbying by the
team, coaches and supporters.
8 The University's plan to
drop the men's gymnastics
team and elevate women's
soccer to varsity would bring
the percentages to 61 percent
male and 39 percent female.
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