Friday, July 13, 2007

Recent Title IX happenings

It has been a big summer for Title IX news. In addition to the 35th anniversary last month there have been a couple of prominent cases and/or investigations that the legislation has figured into. One I wrote about earlier this week. Former Fresno State volleyball coach Lindy Vivas won a hefty settlement against her former employer. The follow-up to that story is the interest California state legislators are now taking in gender equity in athletics.
This story and accompanying video clip state that legislators plan on looking into the CSU system to see whether this is a bigger problem or if the Vivas incident was an isolated one. Save your time and money: it was not. The other two cases pending that involve former Fresno State female coaches suggests certainly that Fresno has a problem. But even beyond Fresno I think the lawmakers will be shocked to see the crap that female coaches and athletic administrators endure.
Also in Title IX news, Florida Gulf Coast University just completed an internal investigation into complaints that were collected by their former AD and women's sports pioneer/advocate Merrily Dean Baker. There has been a lot of controversy down in Florida about this investigation but the internal auditor found nothing that suggest the department is violating Title IX. But the response by the school (the interim president forbade anyone to talk about the investigation) and the athletic director has been poor. They have vilified Baker and essentially shut down any possibility of change. The reason Baker put together the complaint that consisted of concerns by coaches and student-athletes was that they felt they would somehow be retaliated against should they voice their concerns to the AD or others. This fear is indicative of the atmosphere in the department. And all the allegedly little things (like towel service and banquets) that the report indicated may seem inconsequential contribute to this atmosphere. One of the problems the AD actually acknowledges is the lack of female head coaches--there are 2 out of 14 total. He said he has offered two different jobs to women, one of them a head coaching position but was turned down. What women would take a job in a department that clearly has issues--and denies them--and is run and staffed almost entirely by men?
The lack of women coaching intercollegiate athletics is a problem many acknowledge. Simply offering positions to women does not make it go away. You have to fix the underlying problems like gender inequity and homophobia before we can see a change for the long-term.

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