Committee Recommends Addition of Sport

After considerable discussion focused on rectifying non-compliance with Title IX and State law regarding gender equity in sports, a San Jose State Athletic Department committee has sent a formal recommendation to San Jose State Director of Athletics Tom Bowen to add a women's sport.

A San Jose State athletics department committee has recommended to SJSU Director of Athletics Tom Bowen that a women's team be added to the roster of NCAA sports offered at San Jose State, according to a department official.

"As a result of our November, meeting where we compared and considered data from various sources (including the NCAA) on sport sponsorship and roster sizes, the Gender Equity and Diversity in Athletics Committee submitted a formal recommendation to Tom Bowen to add the sport of women's outdoor track and field," Liz Jarnigan, Associate Athletics Director for Student-Athlete Success Services/Senior Woman Administrator stated in an email to Inside Sparta. "The ultimate decision on adding a sport will be made by him."

After lengthy discussions about which sport to recommend for addition as the 17th varsity program at SJSU, the decision was narrowed at the November meeting to women's lacrosse and track and field. In the end it came down to cost, according to Jarnigan.

"The data our committee considered indicated that travel costs would be much higher for lacrosse," she said. "There are some Div. I NCAA teams on the West Coast, hardly any through the country's mid-section, and the vast majority of the teams are located on the East Coast."

Along with cost, a number of other issues factored highly in the committee's recommendation in favor of track and field, including conference participation. While the Western Athletic and Mountain West Conferences both sponsor women's outdoor track and field, neither conference does so for women's lacrosse. Also, while lacrosse is growing in California high school's, the participation numbers overwhelmingly favor track and field.

The reason for the requested addition of a women's program is to bring the athletic department into compliance with Title IX and State laws regarding gender equity in sports. Inside Sparta previously reported on this in detail.

Jarnigan said that adding a women's track and field team will help in bringing San Jose State within the scope of the law.

"We need to monitor the number of male and female participants on a regular basis in order to ensure that we remain in compliance," she said. "For example, if we add another sport for women, but also see an increase in roster sizes on the men's side, then we risk being out of compliance again."

In addition, since there are many individual events within a track and field program, maintaining correct roster numbers will be far easier with that program, rather than la crosse.

"We can specialize in distances, and then add sprints, jumps, throws if future roster issues require further growth in women's participation opportunities," Jarnigan said. "Also, indoor track and field could be added more easily if participation number issues continue to persist."

Along with the ability to add and subtract sports within an outdoor program, Jarnigan added that if needed an indoor track and field team could easily be added to ensure compliance. Lastly, there would be a benefit to the SJSU women's cross country team, which has not seen much recent success. Jarnigan stated that of the 333 current Division 1 women's cross country programs, 312 sponsor a women's track and field team.

Will there be a return to the "Speed City" of past years, at least on the women's side? As far as hosting events at South Campus, it doesn't appear likely, and how that will work out should Bowen decide to add the program remains to be seen.

"I'm quite sure that SJSU will not be hosting events," Jarnigan said. "We don't have a facility and I don't know when and if we will."



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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