Title IX complicates the creation of a men’s swim team

Forty-three years ago, Richard Nixon signed Title IX as part of the Education Amendments of 1972 and created gender equality between the men’s and women’s athletic teams at Concordia and nationwide.

According to Title IX, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from par­ticipation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

As stated on the U.S. Department of Justice’s website, “Title IX is a comprehensive federal law that pro­hibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded educa­tion program or activity. The princi­pal objective of Title IX is to avoid the use of federal money to support sex discrimination in education programs and to provide individual citizens effective protection against those practices.”

Title IX is largely thought of as a policy affecting only athletics and student-athletes. However Title IX also protects students, faculty and visitors on a college campus in re­porting sexual harassment, sexual discrimination or any other form of sexual misconduct.

Concordia has a team of Title IX Deputy Coordinators to enforce compliance matters as they relate to the students, faculty and athlet­ics of Concordia. According to Peggy Torrance, Concordia’s Title IX Co­ordinator, the biggest responsibility of this team is to create an environ­ment of respect based upon meeting Title IX regulations.

According to an article in The Huffington Post written by Tyler Kingkade which cites information given to The Huffington Post by the U.S. Department of Education, as of July 22 the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is conducting 140 investigations at 124 higher education institutions for po­tential violations of Title IX.

Concordia has never been inves­tigated for violating Title IX regula­tions.

“We take concerns seriously when they arise,” Torrance said.

In terms of athletics, there are three components colleges must meet in order to meet Title IX com­pliance. The first is overall sport and athletic participation offerings. A college can meet this requirement in one of three ways:

—Proportionality. This states that the ratio of female to male student-athletes reflects the ratio of the overall student body. Accord­ing to Concordia’s website, the stu­dent body is 55 percent female and 45 percent male. For Concordia to comply in this category 55 percent of the student-athletes must be female. However, the football team throws this percentage off.

—History and Continuing Prac­tice. If a school has shown a his­tory of continuing expansion of pro­grams for the underrepresented sex it is in compliance of Title IX. Since Concordia hasn’t added a female sport since women’s hockey in 1999, it doesn’t comply here either.

—Effectively Accommodating In­terests and Abilities. This states that if a school shows that the interests and abilities of the underrepresent­ed sex are fully and effectively ac­commodated, then the school is in compliance with Title IX. Concordia does this by periodically sending out surveys.

The second component of com­pliance has to do with athletic finan­cial assistance. Since Division III schools do not offer athletic scholar­ships, this does not apply to Concor­dia.

The third component of compli­ance is equal treatment. This states that the benefits and opportunities received by men’s and women’s teams must be equal.

Title IX does not specifically state that a school must have the same number of athletic teams for men and women. Jessica Rahman, head coach of the women’s basketball team and instructor of the Gender Equity and the World of Sports In­quiry Seminar, believes most of the confusion about Title IX lies here.

“Whenever people think of Title IX they think of athletics and mak­ing things equal,” she said.

The confusion also leads some to think that Title IX limits or forces schools to cut men’s athletic pro­grams. Rachel Bergeson, the assis­tant athletic director at Concordia, denies that this is the case.

“A lot of people get mixed up be­cause they think it increases female opportunities and decreases men’s opportunities,” Bergeson said.

Though Concordia complies with Title IX and offers an equal num­ber of men’s and women’s teams, the athletic department is missing a men’s swimming and diving team.

Besides Bethel University, every MIAC school offers swimming and diving as a school-sanctioned sport. However, Concordia and Augsburg are the only MIAC schools to offer just women’s swimming and diving.

According to Talia Butery, head coach of the women’s swimming and diving team, this makes the swimming program at Concordia feel incomplete.

“I don’t know if it hurts us,” she said. “But it doesn’t help us.”

The effects of only having a wom­en’s swimming and diving team ap­pear in both scheduling and recruit­ing. The team only has three home meets, and none of them are against conference schools.

Butery noted that Concordia’s outlying location among MIAC schools already makes scheduling home duels difficult, but not having a men’s team makes it almost im­possible.

“It’s a trek for any MIAC school,” she said adding that in addition to the trip, schools do not want to bring just their women’s team. “It would be nice to host a MIAC school.”

Madeline Johnson, a junior on the swimming and diving team, said she sees the effects of not having a men’s team in recruitment. Johnson said that a lot of women prefer to train with men and one recruit did not come to Concordia specifically because of a lack of a men’s team.

“We’re missing half [of the pro­gram],” Johnson said. “It doesn’t make us look great.”

Bergeson says that the athletic department is continually work­ing with student organizations and intramural sports to see what the participation is like and to make sure the school is offering the cor­rect opportunities, even in times of a shrinking budget.

“The budget will always be a hurdle,” Bergson said. “But it should never be the only thing.”

Other components that factor into the decision of adding teams are facilities and maintenance.

“When you add sports you want the appropriate pieces in place for the program to be successful,” Bergeson said.

It is necessary to have an ad­equate facility. Adding a men’s swimming and diving team could be difficult because Concordia’s pool only has six lanes.

“It would be difficult for home meets,” Johnson said.

However, the small size would still be manageable as proven by Hamline University’s pool which also has six lanes.

For Butery, the future of men’s swimming and diving at Concordia appears bleak.

“I don’t know if I see it happen­ing here,” Butery said. “Men’s swim­ming might not be the best first choice.”

Johnson said she would like to see a men’s team at Concordia.

“There’s more sense of team and community,” she said. “It’s not an all girls’ school so the team should reflect that.”

Tanner Iverson, a member of Concordia’s Swim Club who swam in high school, said that he was “kind of disappointed” that Concordia didn’t have a men’s swimming and diving team, but that it did not affect his decision in choosing a school.

The Concordia Swim Club was established as a response to the lack of a school-sanctioned men’s swim­ming and diving team. The club pro­vides students the ability to swim together as an integrated group.

For Iverson, a men’s swimming and diving team at Concordia seems doable and if the program were cre­ated it would spark a new interest for potential student-athletes.

“It would hold people to a high­er standard in terms of grades and drinking and eating healthy,” he said.

Rahman believes that if Con­cordia were to add another sport it would be another women’s team — potentially lacrosse — because female student-athletes are still the minority sex.

“It’s a tough thing,” she said add­ing that she believes Concordia has been a leader in taking care of both sides of the program. “I think Con­cordia has always been on the fore­front of doing the right thing.”



Justin Marquette

Senior from Moorhead, Minnesota. Sports writer for The Concordian.

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