U in front of gender curve

At the University, women make up 47 percent of student-athletes.

Than Tibbetts

The University is ahead of the curve for the ratio of female student-athletes to male student-athletes, according to an NCAA report released Tuesday.

The 2002-03 Gender Equity Report showed that female student-athletes make up 44 percent of Division I student-athletes.

At the University, women constitute 47 percent of student-athletes, said Mike Lockrem, director of the athletics department’s media relations.

As of fall, female students made up 52 percent of the University’s undergraduate population, according to the Office of Institutional Research and Reporting.

The 2002-03 NCAA report, the most recent data available, showed that the proportion of female to male students, 44 percent to 56 percent, did not change for Division I athletics programs.

But the proportion of Division I-A scholarships continues to favor male student-athletes, who receive 58 percent of scholarship dollars.

Athletics Director Joel Maturi said he believes the University’s athletics program has had a tradition of being equal for both genders.

“That’s a credit to the previous athletics director as well,” he said. “Joel Maturi inherited a pretty good program.”

To comply with Title IX, the federal gender equity law, the athletics department has an initiative known as “roster management.”

The policy limits the number of participants in some men’s sports and increases maximums for women’s sports, Maturi said.

Lockrem said the goal of roster management is to bring the student-athlete population back to the same proportion as the undergraduate population.

Women’s track and cross country coach Gary Wilson said the University takes

very good care of all of its

student-athletes.

“The University is exponentially – light years – ahead of 95 percent of schools in the country,” he said.

Wilson said that when Title IX was first introduced, schools began to use quotas because “nobody really knew how to handle it.”

The University has 12 women’s and 11 men’s athletics programs.

Wilson added that Title IX-related policies have evolved in a very positive manner, especially at the University.

“But I think more than quotas, the thing you have to look at is the attitude of the administration toward women’s athletics,” he said.

Maturi added that the system is not a perfect solution.

“There’s still a frustration on the part of male student-athletes who can’t walk on,” he said. “Or there are women’s coaches who say, ‘You’re making me have more players on a team than I want.’ “

Maturi said the Title IX law has helped to close the gap between men’s and women’s sports, even though the process takes time.

“We wouldn’t be where we are, if it weren’t for Title IX,” he said.