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June 18, 1997 - Image 14

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1997-06-18

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A -Th6,Michi& n'Dally. ,Jane 9 ..._.-,,.:.. ------.-,,..atrsrc Fan. a

or i crity?
Title IX leaves mixed feelings at 'M'

aces, names, hopes. People.
After sifting through all the laws,
all the documents, all the techni-
calities, that's what gender equity in ath-
letics really comes down to - people.
Brian Lishawa and Ashley Andersen
are two people for whom gender equity
policy has meant very different things.
Lishawa is the vice president of the
Michigan men's club soccer team and
will begin his senior year in the fall. His
graduation guarantees he will never ben-
efit from a varsity men's soccer program
at Michigan - primarily because the
addition of men's soccer to the varsity
program would increase the disparity
between men and women athletes.
"It's definitely frustrating," Lishawa
said. "It's a popular sport, and there's no
ideological reason not to (make it varsi-
ty). I know I won't be here if it ever is
made varsity, but I just want to see it var-
sity for my love of the sport."
Andersen, however, comes from the
opposite perspective. She was a member
of the Michigan women's varsity crew
team-a program that just concluded its
first year of varsity status at Michigan,
thanks primarily to the influence of Title
IX of the Federal Educational
Amendments, passed in 1972 - mark-
ing its 25th anniversary yesterday.
Graphics by SHARAT RAJU/Daily

"Before, if you said you were on the
crew team, people said, 'The what?"'
Andersen said. "Crew, in general, is get-
ting more recognition because more
crew teams across the country are going
varsity - men's and women's."
But men's crew is not becoming a var-
sity sport at Michigan, or at most
Division I schools across the nation.
Partly because of Title IX, men's varsity
soccer and crew may not become a real-
ity at Michigan.
Title IX states that no "person in the
United States shall, on the basis of sex,
be excluded from participation in, be
denied the benefits of, or be subjected to
discrimination under any education pro-
gram or activity receiving Federal finan-
cial assistance."
The original Title IX of 1972 didn't
regulate college athletics as part of its
mandate. But the Policy Interpretation
added in 1979 by the Department of
Education's Office for Civil Rights insti-
tutes a three-pronged test to determine
whether federally funded educational
institutions live up to government stan-
dards of gender equity.
A school can meet Title IX require-
ments by meeting any one of the three
conditions. But this doesn't always apply
in the case of the last two, which are
arguably more subjective than the first.
The first and most important part of
the test requires an institution to demon-
strate that the ratio of male to female ath-
letes is approximately equal to the ratio
of male to female students. -
The second requirement states that the
school must be able to "show a history
and continuing practice" of trying to

respond to "the developing interests and
abilities" of the underrepresented sex.
The final stipulation asks the school to
demonstrate "that the interests and abili-
ties of the members of that sex have been
fully and effectively accommodated:'
In order to meet the propor-
tionality test, Michigan has
moved two women's teams from
club to varsity status in the last
three years: women's crew, as well as
women's soccer, which got its start as a
varsity program in the fall of 1994.
Aside from these additions, however,
there are some who have been left
behind: teams like men's club soccer and
men's club crew have not been granted
varsity status. According to Senior
Associate Athletic Director Keith
Molin, they probably will not be given
varsity status any time soon.
"If (men's) soccer and men's crew
were to be elevated now to varsity status,
then you would have to add additional
women's sports to keep equity numbers
even," Molin said. "The making of
women's soccer and crew varsity sports
created opportunities for women stu-
dent-athletes which did not previously
exist, and moved our numbers into bal-
ance without taking away opportunities
that were already there."
The truth is that Michigan has out-
done other programs in the race for gen-
der equity simply by not removing men's
varsity sports already in place. Many
Division I programs, including
Michigan State and Syracuse, have bal-
anced the numbers of their men and
women athletes by cutting "minor"
men's sports like lacrosse and wrestling.
Michigan's restraint from cutting
men's sports is all the more impressive,
considering that Michigan has also out-
done many other Division I schools in
the achievement of gender equity itself.
USA TODAY reported that, during the
1995-96 school year, 40 percent of
Michigan's student-athletes were women,
compared to 49 percent of the student
body. But the national average of women
athletes in Division I schools is only 34
percent, according to The New York
Times - a clear violation of the rule.
Michigan men's soccer coach Steve
Burns said his argument for varsity sta-
tus centers around the popularity of soc-
cer, not necessarily the gender-equity
issue. According to the Soccer Industry
Council of America, Michigan is the
eighth-highest state in overall soccer par-
ticipation, and soccer is Michigan's
fastest growing men's high school sport.
"I'm fully in favor of women getting
their due," Burns said. "If you're only
going to have 11 sports, if you're a state-
funded institution, you should look at
what you're constituency plays at the
high school level - you have to read
those trends in sports in our society"
On the other hand, Michigan men's
club crew coach Gregg Hartsuff feels
government rules that may hamper
men's athletics - while helping pro-
mote the rights of women athletics -

are
unfair to.teams like
men's club crew,
"For me, with'
women's crew, there's
been a good side and a
bad side," Hartsuff said.
"The good side is that row-
ing has gotten more sup-
port. (However,) I believe there
are more men out there interest-
ed in competing in intervarsity
athletics than there are women."
Another argument by those who dis-
agree with Title IX's determination of
gender equality revolves around the
effect football has on the men to women
athlete ratio. The Michigan football team
enlists upwards of 100 players -
enough for four men's soccer teams.
Cecil Pryor, a former Michigan foot-
ball player and alumnus who sits on the
committee of the Board in Control of
Intercollegiate Athletics - in charge of
reviewing the case of men's soccer -
said he doesn't think football should
count in meeting the standards of prong
one of Title IX.
"I don't think football should be
included in the numbers," Pryor said.
"Not because I'm a former football play-
er, but because football is the bread and
butter that pays for everything."
Proponents of Title IX emphasize
gender equity on a larger scale - that
equality is less about the interest of indi-
vidual sports than about providing
female athletes with as much opportuni-
ty on the varsity scale as men have
always possessed.
Michigan women's crew coach Mark
Rothstein said that, although he wants
crew to advance as a sport, the interests
of women should be considered first.
"I don't think it's unfair," Rothstein
said. "Obviously, I would love to see
men's crew become a varsity sport. But
across America, there's still a lot more
opportunities for high school boys than
high school girls to participate at the col-
lege level"
Exactly why is attaining varsity status
so important to club teams such as men's

soccer and crew?
The most im
tattreason is
the most obvi
ous -- money.
Men's clib
soccer receive
s_ 13 percent o
its $21,000
budget for 1996
from the Unisersity's Recreational
Sports Department. The rest came
from fundraising alumni support
and player dues.
Michigan women's so r
coach Debbie Belkin said that
moving to the varsity lesel
' has meant a great deal to the
wsomen's team.
"I wasn't here when it was
club, but I know it was a
huge jump in terms of
funding and support,"
Belkin said. "It's a whole
new world. We gt
treated very well, and
it's a nice situation"
Opinions on gen-
der equity are as far-
ranging as the per-
sonalities of those
involved.
Arguments
on the topic are
often heated,
which * t
s urp r is ing,
considering the sensitivity of the issue.
"One of the things we feel most acute-
ly that we lost is our relationship with the
men's team,"Andersen said. "It's hard for
us to know that, even though we're still
friends, they still feel some bitterness."
Everyone seems to have a valid point
to make - everyone has a legitimate
version of what they consider to be the
truth. With an issue as loaded as gear
equity, only one thing seems perf y
clear: When passions are on the line,
when a Brian Lishawa or an Ashley
Andersen loves a sport for the sole sake
of playing it, there really can be no clear
answers.
A brief history of
Title IX:
YEAR EVENT
1972 Title IX passes
1979 "Three-pronged test" for
college athletics added
1997 In April, the U.S.
Supreme Court refused
to hear further argu-
ments on Cohen v.
Brown University,
upholding the three-
pronged test

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