This article originally appeared in the June 1979 issue of AB with the headline, “Institutions Themselves Must Take the Lead in Remedying their Own Situations.”
Many colleges and universities are rapidly approaching the crisis stage in their attempts to reconcile the consequences of Title IX legislation and its impact on intercollegiate sports programs for men and women. While recognizing both the seriousness of the issues and the apprehension which impending changes creates, I must conclude that the current situation exists because of a failure on the part of many colleges and universities to deal with what is essentially an intra-institutional management problem.
In effect, too many colleges and universities find themselves in the position of supporting two separate and expensive varsity athletic departments and programs. Such situations often result in two athletic directors, two faculty athletic committees and two voting representatives who can lend support to their separate factions in the rule making organizations at the state, regional, conference or national levels.
More often than not, the institutional votes cast in the various delegate assemblies result in further widening the gaps between the parent organizations which govern our sports programs—NCAA, NAIA and AIAW—and therefore between the programs at the institutional level. As a matter of fact, colleges and universities have actually funded litigation by the NCAA against HEW, whose defense is partially supported by AIAW attorneys, who are paid by our institutions. This is tantamount then, to suing themselves!
In attempting to assess this situation from the standpoint of being required to vote in both organizations, I find myself both frustrated and annoyed at the atmosphere of antagonism and distrust each has exhibited toward the other. It is patently absurd when viewed from the perspective of one in the unenviable role of trying to represent both sides of most issues.
It would seem obvious that an institutional representative should cast a vote—and in fact has a legitimate duty to cast such a vote or to exert any other possible influence—in what would be the best interest of the institution represented. This cannot happen if the dual roles mentioned above continue to exist and the apparent lack of communication between the people included in them continues. It seems only logical that the institutions themselves must take the lead in remedying their own situations as an initial step in getting all sports programs together under one roof.
Most of us seem to have been able to solve our in-house compliance with Title IX in regard to physical education and intramural sports programs, and to place intercollegiate athletics in compliance as well should not represent a great obstacle if sincere effort can be made toward reconciling the existing differences. The present divided athletic situation is not only absurd; it is also very poor business.
No One Wants Public Forum
Why can’t we co-exist as on unit? No one seriously expects or wants either men or women to be treated unequally in any program. Certainly no one purposely wants to drag their institutional affairs into the glare of a public forum through intervention of the courts or an in-depth investigation by the ominous “enforcers” of HEW in their attempts to police the regulations of Title IX. The attending “hoopla” that can be created by the media is in itself an unacceptable price to pay.
Furthermore, it is inconceivable that even HEW would or could find room to object if individual institutions would take it upon themselves to see that the NCAA and AIAW reconcile their differences and adopt a reasonable and amicable solution to the co-existence of men’s and women’s sport programs.
The basic schism that has developed is due, in my estimation, to several factor. Money is of course the one item most often talked about and it is certainly both a tangible and important factor. The expenditure of funds for men’s and women’s sports is to be the main thrust of the most recent regulations proposed and circulated by the director of HEW. The proposed regulations define equality as being based on what the director refers to as “per capita parity” in the expenditure of “financially measurable categories” of funds for men and women. This so-called “financial parity” is to be the principle yardstick by which HEW apparently will evaluate our compliance with Title IX, but it is not the only factor involved. Actually it is highly probable that if most of the other differences in this family fight could be settles the “money parity” would become less significant to HEW and would satisfy the philosophical thrust of Title IX.
Other Important Differences
One of the key differences, seeming to separate AIAW and NCAA lies in the jealous guarding of program—not necessarily institutional—autonomy. Both organizations are quite adamant relative to “running their own show” with the AIAW somewhat more determined to go their own way without interference from the NCAA.
In spite of heated statements heard on both sides, I would not advise complete oneness, as it makes more sense for both programs to remain autonomous up to a point. The point at which we need to move in with one another is reached where (1) competition and (2) basic administration separate.
There is little question in my mind as to the futility of trying to organize such competitive factors as divisional structure (levels of competition), the conduct of championships and the countless game rules and regulations or even the regional conference and state bases for organized competition in order for both men and women to conform to one standard of competition. Their current standards, philosophies and modes of competitive operations are working well and do not seriously conflict with one another.
One can argue, for example, that the women’s divisional strategy which allows the choice of the competitive level an institution desires to play in by sport,is an excellent and fair way to compete as it is based on highly realistic standards. It appears to this observer—who voted in favor of this move in AIAW and against the latest NCAA move, re: Div. IA and Div. IAA—the AIAW has shown remarkably good judgement in structuring their competitive levels in all sports according to the desires, ability and financial commitment of each institution.
It would be a shame to have to give this up just because the men have structured their competitive levels differently. Similar arguments can be made in defense of both sides relative to championships and all competitive structuring. This includes the regional and state bases for both membership and competition in AIAW as opposed to the NCAA district and conference structures for competition.
In this area it should be relatively easy to come together. It is silly for a single institution to have to administer two different sets of rules relating to a varsity athlete. Such general items as eligibility, transfers, grants-in-aid, recruiting, hardships, years of competition and financing can and should be under one set of rules for all athletes. Every discrepancy in the current rules of AIAW and the NCAA tends to violate someone’s rights either male or female. It is inconceivable that an agreement cannot be reached, even if the institutional administrators have to tell their athletic directors and voting representatives that they will do this.
Briefly my thinking then is to put together an organizational plan roughly based on the model currently being used by most universities. If a university can be loosely defined as a collection of colleges in which the university administration handles the funds and provides most of the services to the colleges and the students—but with the separate colleges providing their own unique educational functions. (i.e.: Education, Engineering, Law et.al.)
I possess no insight relative to specifying what would be an appropriate title for the basic administration segment of this proposed merger. This should surface as a logical outcome of the union. I do, however, have a positive conviction that if intercollegiate athletics are going to continue as viable and highly visible representatives of our collegiate institutions, we are going to have to clean up our act and put it all together in a reasonable fashion. A fashion which takes into account an elementary premise that men and women athletes do have quite different concepts of their basic competitive needs, desires and philosophies of athletic competition. However, we must not forget that they are all student-athletes, and that equality of opportunity is both their right and our duty—as well as our protection. Let’s get moving!
About the author
Since 1965, John Dratz has served as faculty representative for athletics and has been chairman of the faculty athletic committee at the University of Tulsa. He has also served as interim director of athletics in 1970-71 while the school was searching for a new full-time director.
In 1957, when Dratz was chairman of the health, physical education and recreation department, Tulsa incorporated men’s and women’s physical education into one department.
In 1973-74, the university added two women’s sport to their intercollegiate athletic program—golf and tennis. It was decided at that time that both sports would have the same budget—including scholarships—as the men’s golf and tennis teams.
The faculty athletic committee at that time established the policy of continuing with one single intercollegiate athletic committee and one single athletic department. Other women’s sports have been added, namely volleyball, basketball and swimming. All started as club sports but proved to be viable and have been incorporated into the intercollegiate athletic department.
For several years, both Dratz and a capable woman from the HPER department represented Tulsa at various district and national meetings of the AIAW and NCAA. However, in 1975-76 the administration eliminated the double representation. Dratz then represented the university in both organizations. “This move came when we realized that we were, in fact, representing our sex and not our university, however well-intentioned we were,” says Dratz.
On Tulsa’s current status, Dratz says, “We like our approach and we know it can work. We use the same rules for eligibility for both men and women in spite of differences in NCAA and AIAW requirements.”