Even Stevens…and Stephanies

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How Title 9 levels playing field for male, female student athletes

By Julius Williams

“Title 9” is an education amendment that prohibits discrimination in sports based on gender. The college’s athletic programs, like every other institution receiving federal assistance, has to comply with “Title 9” provisions each year in order to continue receiving funds for student scholarships and funding for programs.

Carl Heinrich, assistant dean of athletics and the college’s athletic director, is responsible for making sure that the college is in compliance.

“Equality in athletics means offering the same opportunities for males [and] females,” Heinrich said.

The athletics department fills out an EADA report every fall to comply with the Department of Education’s federal mandate. EADA stands for Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act. Every school that receives federal funding uploads their information online and their reports can be viewed by visiting the Department of Education’s website at http://ope.ed.gov/athletics.

The college’s most recent report covering the Fall and Spring 2010-2011semester lists 153 men student athletics and 125 female student athletics and includes money spent on student aid, recruiting expenses, game expenses and revenues. According to the report, the total expenses for men’s athletics were $844,169 and $857,146 for women’s athletics.

“You have to balance the number of scholarships, the amount of money spent on recruiting, team travel, uniforms and supplies,” Heinrich said.

Balancing the funds can be challenging when men and women play different sports and belong to different divisions. For example, the college has approximately the same amount of money for its men’s and women’s track teams. But last year, the men’s team had 71 athletes versus 59 for the women’s. That could mean that the amount of money available per student for financial aid or travel expenses could differ.

Kent Shelley, athletics department, has coached the baseball program for over 26 years.

“Title 9 has advanced women’s sports to the point right now where they are stronger today than ever… in terms of scholarships, travel, recruitment opportunities and facilities,” said Shelley.

Shelley said that he is in strong support of the women’s programs and is glad to see our female student athletes flourish but it can be frustrating at times because equality in sports programs doesn’t always mean that aid is distributed equally.

“Roster sizes vary,” Shelley said. “For example, softball doesn’t need to carry the same number of players as baseball to fulfill a roster. So they have the same number of scholarships opportunities as we do for baseball but their roster size is smaller. Therefore they can 100 percent scholarship their entire roster whereas baseball, requiring more numbers, has a significant number of roster players that don’t receive scholarship aid.”

Roster size can vary depending on the sport which can affect not only scholarships but budgets for team travel and recruiting. Fewer roster players means more money per player is available.

In addition, the college has both Division I and Division II teams. Having teams in both divisions allows the college to “level the playing the field” for its students. Division I teams can offer tuition, books, fees and room/board for their student athletes, but Division II teams can only offer tuition and books. Heinrich says that the difference in available aid can play a big part in recruiting.

The college is part of the Jayhawk conference (www.kjccc.org) which includes schools like Coffeyville Community College. Coffeyville has a Division I basketball program so student athletics can take advantage of the school’s Division I status to receive aid for on-campus housing. Our college doesn’t have on-campus housing so the previous president of the college, Charles Carlsen suggested that the basketball teams switch to Division II in order to stay competitive.

By making that move, the college can continue to play Division I teams within the Jayhawk Conference, but not have to compete against those schools for recruiting student athletes. A student athlete who is deciding which Division I college to attend might choose one school over another simply because one school has on-campus housing. But as a Division II program, the college gets to offer the same amount of aid as any other Division II program.

Heinrich believes that in most cases there are two types of students that come to a two-year athletic program. Students who have the athletic talent to go to a four-year program but don’t have the academic qualifications or students who have the academics but need to raise their playing level to compete with four year students. Whether male or female, student athletes will find equal opportunities at the college to hone their academic and athletic skills to transfer to a four year program.

Jennifer Ei, head volleyball coach at the college agrees.

“I think they do a great job of equaling out the sports,” said Ei. “They really split the teams evenly. I think the college has a ton of resources that have really helped with the recruiting process, especially the math lab, writing center and science programs. It’s a nice experience for the kids…the college does a really good job of supporting us.”

Contact Julius Williams, Sports Assignment Editor, at jwilli78@jccc.edu.

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