Among universities in Pennsylvania, Temple is ranked last in terms of Title IX compliance. This is an assertion made in a recent study conducted by the Women’s Law Project, a nonprofit feminist legal advocacy organization based in Pennsylvania.
The WLP study entitled Gender Equality in Intercollegiate Athletics: Where Does Pennsylvania Stand? was conducted by WLP attorney David Cohen, covering more than 100 colleges and universities in Pennsylvania.
Title IX was established in 1972 as a federal law, prohibiting discrimination based on sex in educational programs receiving federal funds. Though this covers areas other than sports, Title IX is most often applied to intercollegiate athletics.
The WLP’s findings are serious, and have surprised many in the Temple community.
It is easy to see why.
Temple employs 18 female coaches and provides 12 female sports teams to its 10 male teams. Temple provides more full female scholarships than full male scholarships, according to Temple Athletic Director Bill Bradshaw.
“Our study does not contest this,” Cohen said. “Temple ranks among the highest with regards to scholarship distribution; however, there are other areas where [Temple] is falling behind.”
According to the study, one indicator of Title IX compliance is the difference between “the percentage of women enrolled and the percentage of women’s athletic positions.”
The study reports a 14.4 percent disproportion for the 2003-04 school year. The United States’ Department of Education’s Equality in Athletics Disclosure Web site is credited as the source of the study’s figures. According to the very same site, the 2004-05 disproportion was only 9 percent. This difference is likely due to Temple’s addition of men’s and women’s cross country teams in the last year.
“That is definitely an improvement for Temple over the years in our study,” Cohen said. “I don’t know why they’re doing better, just that they are doing better. A 9 percent difference still indicates disproportion, though.”
But Caroline Femovich said figural disproportion is not the only indicator of Title IX compliance. Femovich is the executive director of the Patriot League. She’s also served at the University of Pennsylvania and at Gettysburg College, where she was the coordinator of women’s athletics. There is actually a three-part test to determine Title IX compliance, Femovich said.
Femovich laid out the steps last week to one of Temple’s professional sports issues classes. In order for a university to be considered within Title IX compliance, it must fall under one of three criteria: substantial proportionality, a school’s history and its full accommodation of all athletic interests.
“This is not an all-or-nothing,” Femovich said. “Colleges and universities only need to meet one of these.”
One measure of compliance is substantial proportionality, which measures whether the general student population has a ratio of male-to-female students at 45 percent to 55 percent. Substantial proportionality then determines if female athletes comprise 55 percent of a university’s athletic scholarship dollars and participation opportunities.
According to Femovich this is one of the least contested issues.
Schools can be in compliance if they demonstrate a history and continuing practice of expanding programs for what many around Title IX call, “the underrepresented sex.”
By adding both men’s and women’s cross country, Temple could fall under this measure of compliance. But does adding one sport truly show a history of program expansion? Cohen does not think so.
The disproportion of athletic opportunities over the three years reported in the study show “no consistent increase,” according to Cohen. The disproportional rate at Temple between 2002 and 2005 was consistently between 9 percent and 14.6 percent.
Bradshaw said the university is “closing the gap” between male and female athletic opportunities.
“We haven’t had a chance to validate or substantiate any of the information in the study,” said Bradshaw, who conceded that any discrepancy could be caused by Temple’s football program, which annually offers 85 full scholarships.
“If you take away the football scholarships, you’re left with 50 full male scholarships and 121 full female scholarships,” Bradshaw said.
Femovich agreed with Bradshaw, saying the presence of football at a school creates different variables for Title IX.
“Football is a whole different animal. It’s a major revenue generator, but it is also an expense,” Femovich said. “Some people would argue that cutting 10 percent from football would fund more women’s sports and avoid cutting other men’s sports to accommodate Title IX requirements.”
But in doing so, Title IX would be seen as an athletic accommodation for female athletes, Cohen said.
“The purpose of our study was to show where schools were not providing opportunities for female athletes and give them the push to do better,” Cohen said.
The position of the WLP is to alleviate Title IX compliance problems in Pennsylvania, especially at large universities like Temple, Cohen said.
“All the numbers we reported came from the Department of Education,” Cohen said. “They’re Temple’s own numbers.”
The Department of Education requires schools receiving federal funds to report athletics information, ranging from coaches’ salaries to the specific number of participants per athletic team. Cohen said he felt these figures validated the claims made in the WLP study.
Temple is not alone, though. The study shows that more than half of Pennsylvania’s schools are falling below the disproportional measurement of compliance.
Temple ranked as Pennsylvania’s worst large school for athletic equity in opportunity. It was followed by Pittsburgh, a public institution, and West Chester, a state-funded university, which are also in the bottom three. State schools Kutztown and Bloomsburg round out the bottom five.
According to the WLP study, Pennsylvania’s top ranked schools for athletic opportunities were Penn State and Villanova, followed by Pennsylvania College of Technology, Lehigh and Bucknell.
Bradshaw said change at Temple is coming.
“We will be bringing [this study] up to the athletic committee of the Board of Trustees,” Bradshaw said. “We are trying to validate this information and we will contest it.”
Bradshaw said the Athletic Department was not contacted by the WLP and was not informed of the findings of its study. The information contained in the three-year study came directly from reports that Temple was required to give to the Department of Education, Cohen said.
Femovich supported Cohen and the WLP.
“I wouldn’t count them out,” Femovich said. “I believe they are a reputable source. I’ve dealt with them when I worked at the University of Pennsylvania. I have a lot of respect for them. This is something Temple should look into.”
On paper, Temple is falling behind other Pennsylvania universities in the opportunities it provides its female athletes. Bradshaw maintained that student-athletes and coaches should be the main indicator of a university’s compliance.
“We haven’t gotten any complaints from our athletes or coaches,” Bradshaw said.
As Temple’s track and field coach for both male and female performers, Stefanie Scalessa said it is her job to maintain gender equality between the two teams.
“Gender equality is not really an issue we deal with,” Scalessa said. “We don’t always split up by gender. We split by event. The equipment and uniforms are basically the same. We travel together.
“… I’m surprised Temple [was] ranked this way.”
Scalessa praised Temple for the opportunities the university has afforded her.
“If I want to bring in a nutritionist or something like that, or an assistant coach, [Temple] never asks if it’s for the men’s or women’s team or if the coach I’m looking at is male or female. All they look at is credentials, what is going to be best for the team.”
With her hands-on experience, Scalessa said she doesn’t think gender equality is an issue at Temple. When asked if the study’s findings would hurt recruiting, Scalessa was resolute in saying no.
“I do think the world needs more female coaches,” Scalessa said. “I have put ads out for assistant coaches or volunteer coaches. And eight-tenths that apply are men.”
The WLP study contended that a gender disparity in coaching positions could be the result of not having enough athletic opportunities for females.
There aren’t many female coaches speaking out on the Title IX controversy, either.
Last spring the Department of Education introduced a new clarification for Title IX compliance.
As a way to judge male and female interest on a particular campus, a university’s administration would need to send out an e-mail survey, the clarification said.
“When is the last time you had time to respond to a survey? When is the last time you even looked at one?” Femovich asked a Temple class last week.
This Title IX clarification is currently being contested in Congress.
Though the issue may be severe, coaches remain tight-lipped, said Larry Dougherty, Temple’s media relations coordinator. One coach Dougherty mentioned was Dawn Staley, coach of Temple’s nationally ranked women’s basketball team. Staley said she has faith that Temple will fully comply with Title IX, if it doesn’t already.
“I don’t think it’s a problem, but only time will tell,” Staley said. “We have to coach just as effectively and do what we do. I believe Temple will be able to get it together.”
Dougherty also said many coaches are “not well-versed in Title IX, or may be uncomfortable speaking about it.”
Cohen agreed with Dougherty.
“I think coaches don’t speak out more often for all the reasons people don’t speak out often about any wrongs they perceive: They don’t like to rock the boat, they are afraid of retaliation, they don’t know enough to feel comfortable raising the issue, they don’t care, they aren’t the ones affected by the problem,” Cohen said.
“In an ideal world coaches would be the ones looking out for athletes who are being discriminated against, but that doesn’t always happen.”
If coaches or athletes don’t raise the issue, universities still would need some sort of checks and balance system, Bradshaw said. That’s why Temple relies on a few different individuals aside from its coaches.
Temple does not have a Title IX compliance director. But Bradshaw called Senior Women’s Administrator Kristen Foley “our internal watchdog.”
“There is a lot of subjectivity with regards to Title IX,” Foley said in a telephone interview. “The only number-based measure is proportionality, and it’s tough to maintain compliance.”
Foley admitted that Temple has not received internal complaints, which should speak for its compliance success.
“We do have a plan in place, and we’re looking in the community to see where there are competitive interests to add more sports,” she said.
Foley said football can “change the numbers” of an entire university. She added that Temple would likely “have to do a better job with both men’s and women’s sports.”
In addition to Foley, Joanne Epps, Temple’s faculty athletic representative, helps to eliminate conflict of interest. When Epps’ 11-year tenure is up at the end of this year, Temple’s new president will need to appoint a representative to this position.
Though Bradshaw said Temple “will challenge the data and conclusions” made in the study, he admitted that Title IX compliance should be an annual check.
“We shouldn’t wait for the NCAA or a federal agency or a third party to point this out,” he said.
Bradshaw added that Title IX always has been and will continue to be a “prominent priority here at Temple.”
While colleges and universities across the country attempt to fix Title IX compliance problems, Cohen and the WLP plan to investigate gender equality on the high school level. Cohen said there is no public data that is available for the high school level.
For now, though, athletes and administrators from other Pennsylvania universities included in its study have contacted the WLP.
“They want to do better, and we’re going to try and work on some Pennsylvania legislation,” Cohen said.
As of late last week, Cohen said he had not been contacted by Temple.
Danielle K. Milner can be reached at email@example.com.