Adding Sports at SJSU and Title IX

When Inside Sparta spoke recently with San Jose State Director of Athletics Tom Bowen, he mentioned the possible addition of another varsity sport. A member of the athletic department staff went into more detail, including the Title IX implications of expanding the number of NCAA sports at SJSU.

Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, better known simply as Title IX, is most often discussed in regards to athletics, but covers all educational departments and institutions, public or private, that receive Federal financial assistance. After several court cases it was ruled that scholarships that are funded partially or in whole by the Federal Government qualify as Federal financial assistance. Many grants and other financial aid programs are funded or backed in some way by the Feds, which bring the institutions under the umbrella of Title IX regulation.

For those not familiar with the law, it was implemented as a part of wide reaching Civil Rights legislation passed in the early 70s. The act broadened anti-discrimination laws to include women.

What makes an institution compliant with the law?

From the NCAA website:

An institution must meet all of the following requirements in order to be in compliance with Title IX:

  1. For participation requirements, institutions officials must meet one of the following three tests. An institution may:
    1. Provide participation opportunities for women and men that are substantially proportionate to their respective rates of enrollment of full-time undergraduate students;
    2. Demonstrate a history and continuing practice of program expansion for the underrepresented sex;
    3. Fully and effectively accommodate the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex; and,
  2. Female and male student-athletes must receive athletics scholarship dollars proportional to their participation; and,
  3. Equal treatment of female and male student-athletes in the eleven provisions as mentioned above.

Institutions found to be non-compliant with Title IX guidelines face forfeiture of Federal funds. While no institution to date has ever been formerly sanctioned for non-compliance of Title IX regulations, there have been instances when schools have been forced to pay court costs and attorney's fees for cases brought for litigation.

And, surprisingly, most institutions are not in compliance. San Jose State falls into this category.

"We're required to offer sports programs for men and women that are representative to the general population of the entire school. In our case it's 52 percent women, 48 percent men," Associate Athletic Director Liz Jarnigan said. ""We are way out of compliance."

The proportional requirements come from state law, rather than Title IX, though it is generally believed the state law has its roots in Title IX. The current requirements are the product of a lawsuit filed in 1993 by the California Chapter of the National Organization for Women claiming the CSU system was not complying with a 1976 state law regarding gender equity. The lawsuit was dropped and the parties involved came up with what became known as the Cal-NOW decree. It's this decree that mandates that numbers are based on gender proportions of the entire school.

This isn't the first time SJSU has had to shuffle sports to come into Title IX compliance. In 1988 SJSU cut men's track, women's field hockey, men's cross country and wrestling. At the time the cuts were made due to budget restrictions, but Title IX considerations forced the cuts to be made mostly to men's sports. Between 1994 and 1997 San Jose State dropped more men's sports - tennis and gymnastics - and added women's water polo and women's cross country, and reinstated the men's cross country program to bring athletics to its current list of programs.

Last year the athletic department created a Roster Management Plan to bring the school into Title IX compliance. The plan included the addition of a women's program. Several sports were a part of the discussion, but Jarnigan said the top two sports under consideration at this point are women's lacrosse and track and field, with lacrosse being the front-runner. However, the resurrection of the once fabled SJSU track and field team could possibly be a popular choice. 'Speed City' won numerous Olympic medals, and the statues of former track stars John Carlos and Tommie Smith oversee the area on campus next to Bentel Hall.. There are other advantages for adding track, along with significant questions.

"We now have a cross country team and it's been shown that programs that carry both track and field recruit better for cross country, so we could potentially improve cross country by adding a track and field team," Jarnigan said. "The question is do we add only women's track or both men's and women's?"

Jarnigan added that field hockey is another sport under consideration but scheduling would possibly conflict with several other sports. Field hockey is a fall sport. Football, along with men's and women's soccer, already use Spartan Stadium for their games.

With most schools in the California State University system looking for ways to cut costs and even programs, along with the fact that in the not-too-distant past there were rumblings that the SJSU football program may not survive, it could be a construed that a plan to add one or two programs is a sign the financial turmoil that current athletic director Tom Bowen inherited when he took over the department six years ago are now in the past. While things have certainly improved, the addition of programs is not at the top of the list of desirable items.

"Ideally we'd rather not do this," Jarnigan said. "We're maxed out with sports staff . More (athletes) puts more strain on the support staff like strength and conditioning and adding staff isn't possible."

For the 2010-2011 fiscal year the athletic department has a budget of close to $18 million for 16 varsity sports, according to the university website. For comparison, a look at the other Cal State schools which offer FBS football shows that San Diego State has a budget of approximately $12 million, and Fresno State reports a budget of around $19 million. Both schools offer 18 varsity sports. The numbers come from budgets released by the schools for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.

San Jose State is healthiest financially as far as monies in reserve. While the report shows a projected loss of $670,299 for the 2010-2011 fiscal year, the SJSU coffers still have a surplus of $1,114,557. Fresno State reports a projected operating net of $11,854 but an overall projected deficit of $128,146. San Diego State projects a surplus of $854,737. These numbers do not include budgets for capital improvements.

San Jose State currently has a club team for women's lacrosse and track and field. Club teams aren't associated with the athletic department and get little or no support from the university.. The club members must do their own fundraising, hire their own coaching staffs, and pay for all expenses including travel. It is highly unlikely that a club team would be transitioned to NCAA status.

"The club teams usually have players that did not make an NCAA program, so they wouldn't make us an NCAA sport," Megan Markee, head coach of the SJSU women's lacrosse club team said. "Schools in the west are adding lacrosse to attract East Coast athletes. Cal, Stanford, USC, and others use the lacrosse teams to get more exposure on the East Coast. That helps them with recruiting not only for lacrosse but in other sports."

The athletic department will take steps to get closer to their goal when they meet in November to discuss recommendations to obtain the goals of the roster plan, Jarnigan said.

Changes approved recently by the NCAA will significantly increase the cost-per-athlete for the athletic department. Among those was the okay to increase by $2000 the amount schools can make available to cover the cost of each scholarship. Also, programs are now allowed to offer multi-year scholarships. Until now scholarships were only allowed to be granted on a yearly basis. Schools aren't mandated to implement the increase, but not doing so would have a negative effect on recruiting.

The added expense has forced the athletic department to explore other options to reign in costs as it considers adding teams.

"We'd actually like to cut the number of athletes,," she said. "Right now we have around 430 athletes.and we'd like to get that down to near 380."

How that would be accomplished by adding varsity sports is unclear and will be discussed at the November meeting, Jarnigan said. Adding programs is not the only option the athletic department is exploring.

"One possibility is to change one of the men's sports," she said. "We can't drop any programs because San Jose State is already at the NCAA minimum of 16 varsity sports needed to maintain Division 1 status."

The Roster Management plan is working beyond expectations, according to Jarniga.

"Last year we had a goal of getting the percentages for men's and women's athletes to 52 percent men, 48 percent women," she said. "We've been more effective up to this point but we're not at our goal."




Don Hoekwater is the Publisher of Inside Sparta. You are welcome to contact Don with any questions or suggestions at publisher@insidesparta.net.

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