Friday, March 2, 2012

KU says Title IX satisfied in case


Kansas Athletics has filed documents that show it has satisfied a Title IX complaint lodged by a former Kansas University swimmer who had hoped to encourage the university to offer more men’s sports.

Ron Neugent, a Wichita dentist and former KU swimmer, filed an unusual complaint in 2009 under the law long used to bring about equality for women in athletics.

To comply with Title IX, a university must meet one part of a three-part test. Kansas Athletics stays in compliance with the law by closely watching the number of participants in men’s and women’s sports — sometimes monitoring rosters weekly — to ensure they’re proportional with the number of men and women enrolled at the university.

Neugent found that as of 2007-08, 51 fewer men than women participated in sports at KU. That meant men were the under-represented gender.

KU agreed on a course of action to resolve Neugent’s complaint with the Office of Civil Rights, which oversees Title IX regulations. The agreement didn’t mean KU was out of compliance.

To comply with Title IX, a university must show one of the following:

• It is providing athletic opportunities for men and women at a rate substantially proportional to the enrollment rates of men and women.

• It has a continuing practice of program expansion for an under-represented gender.

• It can demonstrate the interest and abilities of the under-represented gender are being fully accommodated.

In this case, KU chose to show it was in compliance with the first option.

“We are doing what we’re supposed to do in the spirit of the law,” said Jim Marchiony, associate athletics director.

Judy Pottorff, corporate counsel with Kansas Athletics, said the change made at KU was a very minor one. Though KU has never received specific direction on what “substantially proportional” meant, Pottorff said the school was told it was compliant in 2007 when its male-female participation in sports differed by 1.8 percent from the enrollment figures.

“It’s something we’ve always done,” she said. “We wanted to tighten it up to get it a little bit closer.”

After the complaint, KU’s sports participation exactly matched the percentages of men and women enrolled at the university. In December, KU had 294 men participating in sports and 283 women, which was almost exactly the same percentages of the 8,846 men and 8,484 women enrolled on the Lawrence campus.

Debbie Van Saun, Kansas Athletics’ senior woman administrator, watches the rosters carefully, and works with coaches to ensure their participation numbers stay proportional to enrollment percentages. While one person dropping out might not be significant, if the percentages get off by 10 people or more, the school will work with coaches to adjust roster sizes for upcoming seasons.

Title IX complaints at the school are rare, Pottorff said.

Neugent said he was disappointed with the university’s response. In a letter to Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, he said he hoped that KU could take steps to add men’s swimming and diving, and men’s tennis. That’s a move that could help its standing in the Directors’ Cup, a competition among universities that measures athletic performance in 10 men’s and 10 women’s sports, Neugent said.

Today, KU offers seven men’s sports and 11 women’s sports.

“I was hoping they would take it as an opportunity to add men’s sports,” and still comply with Title IX, he said. “Most schools don’t have that opportunity.”


utahjayhawk 10 years, 9 months ago

So how exactly did we close the gap? The article doesn't seem to say. Did we cut women's rosters (hope not) or did we add to existing men's rosters?

James McGuire 10 years, 9 months ago

I think they comply by fulfilling the third requirement. They spend far more on the men's sports than they do the women's sports, which are over-represented.

bpeoples 10 years, 9 months ago

Keep fighting Ron! I was a swimmer at KU and the sad truth is that Kansas Athletics does not care about non-revenue sports. I had heard that before the ticket scandal, all the problems with Lew Perkins, and the horrible last 2 years in football, KU was looking into building a new world class swimming facility, which would have greatly helped the chances of bringing back the men's team. Unfortunately, after all that happened, I assume that talk is dead. It's very sad that a lesser university like Missouri can have such a nice facility and hold World Championship meets, yet KU has a swimming facility that wouldn't compare to some high schools. All the top schools KU claims to be in company with have men's swimming teams. Look up the top 25 rankings for division I men's swimming and you'll see what I'm talking about. It really all depends on football. Once Coach Weis gets things back on track, I'm very hopeful that talk of the new pool will start again. That is of course if they don't decide they need to find a way to remove the track around the football field.

SaltLakeHawk 10 years, 9 months ago

Well it's finally happened. After winning 8 straight titles, KU receives its 9th by default/birthright. I didn't read the article, but that's what I assume this is about.

Alex Berger 10 years, 9 months ago

I just don't think title IX is fair. There are more women in the arts programs but the NCAA doesn't make them equal it out. I wish there was a little more research done by the NCAA to make the men's and women's sports programs proportional to the desire to play by men vs. women. Kind of tragic.

indianajayhawk 10 years, 9 months ago

we closed the gap by eliminating a few ladies (like walk-ons from non-revenue sports), or by taking a couple more walk-ons in each currently-existing men's sport.

At least that would be my guess.

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