Women’s crew on board for varsity

Jennifer Niemela

In a move officials believe will make University athletics the most gender-equal in the Big Ten, University President Mark Yudof on Friday announced women’s rowing will become a varsity sport in fall 2000.
The addition of women’s crew — currently a club sport — will add between 60 and 80 athletes to the women’s athletics department and bring the number of women’s varsity sports to 12.
The plan will go before the Board of Regents at their June meeting.
“We’re excited to bring more athletic opportunities for women,” said regents’ Chairman William Hogan III, adding that he doesn’t foresee any problem with the plan gaining approval. “We want all women’s sports to improve.”
The plan is a response to Title IX, a federal law passed in 1972 prohibiting sexual discrimination at schools that receive federal funding. The law mandates the ratio of male-to-female athletes mirror the ratio of men to women at the school.
Currently, the percentage of male-to-female athletes at the University is 61 to 39 percent. The addition of women’s crew will shrink that disparity to about 4 percentage points, said Bruce Wolfe, associate sports information director for women’s athletics.
“The University is very aggressive in gender equity,” Wolfe said.
Rowing will be the third women’s sport added to the University this decade. Soccer was added in 1993 and hockey in 1997.