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Where the boys are; how a well-intentioned civil rights law and a dose of chauvinism shoved women administrators out of college sports.

How a well-intentioned civil rights law and a dose of chauvinism shoved women administrators out of college sports

One day last February, George Bush took some time out to celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day, At the White House, the new president gave Olympic sprinter Evelyn Ashford an award and received a gold-plated horseshoe from jockey Julie Krone.

As such high-viz events suggest, this is a time of unprecedented growth and excitement within women's sports. But a closer look reveals that there's an unprecedented problem too: although female athletes have become increasingly visible, women coaches and administrators are increasingly scarce. It's just like black athletes: in general, they run plays, but not much else. After all, Big Sports is Big Business, where women are rarely in control.

A study done by two Brooklyn College professors reveals some interesting facts: in 1972 more than 90 percent of women's teams' coaches were female; by 1988 that number had dropped to only 48 percent. In 1972, more than 90 percent of women's athletic programs were headed by a female administrator; today it's only 16 percent. In fact, women hold only 29 percent of all administrative positions within women's athletic programs, and 32 percent of women's athletic programs have no women administrators at all. And the irony is that the overriding factor in creating this situation was the passage of the bill designed to outlaw gender discrimination on campus.

Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 barred sex bias "in any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance." Its passage was hailed as a major victory for the women's movement, and one of Title IX's immediate consequences was that many colleges and universities merged their men's and women's athletic programs. The thinking was that sharing staffs and resources would be a significant step towards equality (not to mention saving on administrative costs).

However, at every school in the country where this kind of departmental merger occurred, the head of the men's athletic department became athletic director and the head of the women's athletic department became his assistant. Women who had once run their own departments, overseeing budgets, scheduling, and hiring, now saw those responsibilities pass solely to men. As Christine Grant, the director of women's athletics at the University of Iowa, puts it, "When the programs merged, the women were submerged."

Then and now, men have tended to offer three major reasons for dominating athletic programs:

Women do not have as much relevant experience as men in running large athletic departments. Andy Geiger, Stanford's athletic director for the past 10 years, subscribes to this view"The women's athletic director did not have to deal with major fundraising, large financial decisions, TV contracts, and very difficult, very public personnel decisions." Eileen Livingston, athletic director at Duquesne University agrees, but adds, "Women haven't been given the opportunity to learn, just like the men learned on the job when TV came on the scene. Give us the opportunity to do it, and we can do it as well."

Men's sports bring in the bucks. Traditionally, the two major money-makers among college sports have been football and men's basketball. They are, in the words of one male athletic director, die "cash cows." They bring visibility, gate receipts, and TV money. And according to several women in sports administration, many college presidents believe that a female athletic director could not run a competitive sports program. "Many men don't believe that women could find the best coaches," says Donna Lopiano, director for women's sports at the University of "Or maybe they don't believe that the best coaches would agree to work for a woman."

Women should not oversee the football program. This is the always unspoken-but apparently powerful-rationale for keeping women out of the upper levels of college sports administration. Among the major college sports, football is the most exclusively male preserve, and there are potent forces acting to keep it that way.

Close but no cigar

As Lynn Imergoot, the assistant athletic director at Washington University, sees it, a woman applying for the position of athletic director is at an immediate disadvantage, "because she won't ever be able to smoke cigars with the football glad-hands."

When Charlotte West was named acting athletic director at Southern Illinois University in 1987, she thought she had a pretty good shot at the permanent job. She had, after all, been in sports administration at Southern Illinois for more than 30 years, first as the director of women's athletics, and then, after die men's and women's programs merged, as associate athletic director. But last July, the university announced that former St. Louis Cardinal quarterback Jim Hart would be the new A.D. Charlotte West had been passed over.

This episode is well-known to female sports administrators because the disparity in experience-Hart had never previously held any sort of significant administrative position-was so glaring. But in announcing the Hart appointment, the Southern Illinois president, John Guyon, dismissed the experience "These jobs can be learned," Guyon rationalized weakly"We're confident that Jim can pick up the necessary information to become a good administrator."

Charlotte West's case is a particularly clear example of the challenges women administrators face in attempting to move ahead in their male-dominated calling. She thinks she didn't get picked because the school's boosters were adamant about not having a

woman controlling football.

Technical knowledge about football isn't the issue. "I know more about football," retorts Merrily Dean Baker, a senior NCAA official and a former sports administrator at Minn"than any male athletic director knows about field hockey or women's tennis'"

No, it's obvious that the football argument is really about something else. While you have to sympathize with West, you can see why Guyon hired Hart. The choice came down to money. Hart is well known in the area, and this could mean a lot in booster contributions. The middle-aged men who contribute want to keep football as their thing. Jim Hart's one of them. He's the guy they watched on the big-screen at the tavern every weekend. None of the guys who wear school colors on game day and plaster their cars with school bumper stickers ever knocked back brewskis together in a Carbondale bar watching Charlotte West balance a budget.

So picking a female athletic director-no matter how qualified-will probably cost a school money initially. But it's not clear that such financial considerations should be decisive. It's just another example of how universities, in their hunt for the Big Bucks, are all too willing to override their other values.

And it's not even clear that fairness to women in athletic administration unavoidably carries a longterm financial penalty. Texas's Donna Lopiano points out that Charlotte West could have hired Jim Hart to do the program's fundraising-effective A.D.s, she notes, shouldn't waste their time concentrating exclusively on fundraising anyway. Lynn Imergoot wants to know why the school didn't name Hart and West codirectors-that option was never considered. The administrative jobs just continue to be doled out by men to men.

There is no question that a substantial number of women around the country are qualified to administer the top-notch Division I athletic programs: Texas's Lopiano, Iowa's Grant, UCLA's Judy Holland, Illinois's Carol Kahrs, and West, to name a few. All have been at the upper level of college sports administration for years. Some, as the heads of separate women's programs, already have wide budgetary, fund-raising, and managerial experience. (It's worth noting that many of these women work at the few programs that did not participate in the merger mania of the 1970s.)

But none of these women seem particularly optimistic about their chances of running a Division I program. Lopiano's women's department at Texas has an annual budget of $3.5 million-larger than some combined Division I programs. Since 1975, she has helped build it into one of the most successful athletic programs-male or female-anywhere. Her teams have won 15 national titles. Yet she is routinely ignored at the big schools whenever they're looking for an athletic director.

Chris Grant oversees an annual budget of $3.2 million. She has never been offered a Division I job either.

Carol Kahrs, associate director for women's athletics at the University of Illinois, says that back in the mid-1970s she used to get a lot of calls for job interviews. Pretty soon though, she began to see that this was actually part of what she calls "the tokenism approach"-the schools making the calls were doing so only to comply with affirmative action requirements.

Indeed, even the full facts about the only two (out of a total of 294) Division I schools with women A. D.s-Duquesne and Central Connecticut State-are further grounds for pessimism. Neither school has a Division I football team. At Duquesne, the big sport is men's basketball-and it is the men's basketball coach, not the athletic director, who has administrative authority over the basketball team. "That basketball contract probably made it easier for them to hire me," admits Eileen Livingston, the Duquesne A.D. for the past six years. "Oh sure," confirms Arthur DeConciliis, head of the Duquesne booster having a separate basketball program made that hiring much more acceptable."

College officials sometimes explain their skewed athletic hiring by saying that they don't receive many job applications from women. Donna Lopiano dismisses this claim"Look," she says, "in the real world, when you've got a top position you don't sit back and wait for the resumes to come in. You decide who it is you want, and then you go out and twist their arms to come to your school. I've got one of the best coaching staffs in the country, and I've never hired anyone who's applied to me. As an administrator, you're in pretty sorry shape if you've got to depend on paper applications."

The consensus today among female sports administrators is that they face day-to-day discrimination in their jobs, which results in less prestige, less responsibility, more "dirty-work" assignments, fewer opportunities for advancement, and lower salaries. On the average a woman head basketball coach in college earns $23,000 less per year than her male counterparts. USA Today reports that at many schools the women's head coach makes less than the men's assistant coaches. At Georgia Tech, for instance, the head women's basketball coach makes $35,000 a year, while the two assistant men's, coaches make $40,000 and $45,000.

So it's not surprising that women are leaving sports administration in ever-increasing numbers-many for business, where they can put their management skills to work for much more money and less aggravation. "I'm not sure," says Imergoot, "if men can understand how it feels to know that because of your sex, you'll never be head of a program you've devoted your life to."

Boys will be boys

The situation is little better in women's coaching. In 1988, there were 5,757 jobs for head coaches of women's teams. Although this was an increase of 52 jobs over 1987, women actually held seven fewer of them than they did in 1986. Like the decrease in female administrators, the decrease in female coaches can be traced back to the passage of Title ix.

Title IX dramatically increased the budgets of women's programs. In 1972, the year of its passage, women's athletic programs received only about 2 percent of total college athletic resources; after Titie IX, that number jumped to about 20 percent. Before Title IX, women's coaching had been done mostly on a part-time or volunteer basis; but with that legislation, lots of funded, full-time positions came into existence. Suddenly coaching the co-eds looked much more attractive-now you could make a living at it-and predictably, men began to apply.

Not surprisingly, the men running the programs tended to hire people they already knew-other men. So it turns out that there is within women's sports-that most unlikely of sites-an old-boys network,

The NCAA, college sports' governing body, first spent years virtually ignoring women's athletics and then vigorously baffling against the application of' Tide IX to athletics. It seems more enlightened now, having recently instituted a series of programs designed to help more women break into the ranks. The NCAA now provides 20 sports administration scholarships per year for women and minorities, as well as six internships. It is even assembling a databank that can help inform women of available positions around the country and conducting seminars for women on sports administration.

And the Women's Sports Foundation-a nonprofit group based in New York-has set up the Coaches Advisory Roundtable, a network of representatives from coaching and sports governance organizations. The CAR offers grant money to organizations commiffed to training women in coaching and officiating positions, and provides a speakers' bureau on women's issues in sports.

It's too early to tell if these efforts can convert the male athletic establishment. It won't be easy. "The rise in women's athletics threatens to take the financial resources away from the men's programs," explains Texas's Lopiano, "and they want to make sure they hold on to the purse strings. Athletics is the last bastion of male chauvinism."
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Author:Goodman, Matthew
Publication:Washington Monthly
Date:Apr 1, 1989
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