ALL DIVISION III MEMBERS
INTERACTIVE DISCUSSION WITH THE NCAA GENDER EOUITY TASK FORCE
(Wednesday, June 9 -9:30-10:00 a.m.)
We're pleased to have the Division III session start off with the Gender Equity Committee. As you see, we have a good turnout here. I would like to introduce them at this time. First of all, I'm Dennis Collins from the North Coast Athletic Conference. With us, is Phyllis Howlett from the Big Ten; Vivian Fuller from Northeastern Illinois; Tom Hansen from the Pac-lO; Judy Sweet, our own favorite from Division 111, Cal State-San Diego, Chris Voelz from Minnesota and Diane Wendt from Denver.
First of all, I'd like to say that I've been involved on a lot of committees, observed a lot of committees, worked with a lot of committees as a conference director and I want to tell you that it's a lot of work being on a committee. This is volunteer work where you come together and try to sort out all of the problems in the world for everybody else. These people up here have invested a lot of their time and have done a very good job. I would like to salute them for that.
At this time, I'II turn this over to the panel for the first questions to begin.
From the Panel:
I'd like to walk you through the document. It begins with the proposed definition. The question has been raised, what does that mean? The proposed definition will not be, in my view at this point, legislative in nature. It will simply be a means by which we define, as an association, what gender equity means because we have heard over and over is, we don't understand that term. Tell us what that means. There may be differences on this panel about that but, I do not see that as a legislative matter. I see that as an edification.
The second part are the principles of gender equity .What those refer to are those things which are contained in the front of the NCAA Manual which will guide legislation of the association. That is legislati in nature, but it's not one of those things which is part of a rule. It is a principle that occurs in front of the Manual.
Then, there will be a group of legislative proposals which are the rules for the association and will be voted on in that fashion at the next convention. Then, there will be a development of a tool which, for lack of better terminology, we've called a source book in which will be contained information which is designed be helpful to institutions as they begin to develop their plans for gender equity .
Sometimes what occurs when you work in a committee, you almost develop a sign language, a code, a shorthand and when you give it to other folks you don't know if they understand what all of that means, so if we've been negligent in that, I wanted to walk through that for you. Now, we would welcome your questions
From the Floor:
Could you summarize for us what some of the sticky issues were that the committee is troubled with. Where are the areas where there was some disagreement?
The Task Force was divided for working purposes into two groups. One dealt with the association and one dealt with the institution. The largest amount of the struggle occurred in the institutional group.
I think with regard to the institutional discussions, we really were concerned about trying to come up with something conceptually that would work in terms of a statement of philosophy. We recognize that it is not feasible for the Task Force to really come up with a specific formula for how schools can achieve gender equity .So, we grappled with many diverse issues which would help us send a message to the membership about the importance of laying groundwork to achieve gender equity.
We discussed a full range of topics including the issues of proportionality which has certainly been a significant point of discussion. We also talked about accommodating needs and interests and how we go about assessing that on our campuses. We talked about the unique challenges that football institutions face with regard to the difference in participation rates and the dollars budgeted for those programs. How we frame language that could successfully meet the needs of the membership without being too specific was our greatest challenge.
I think it would be unfair not to acknowledge that one of the more difficult aspects of any time that you look at this type of issue, is the reliance on revenue for some programs. The complexity of trying to deal
with issues which apply to those who only deal with allocated dollars and those who are dependent on revenue production to carry their programs. It's a challenge and it's not unique to gender equity.
Any committee of the NCAA struggles with that because you want something which is divisionally neutral, but yet, has significance for all three divisions. There are those in Division I, and I represent some of those schools, who would find it very difficult to have the revenue production people harmed in any way. One of the major struggles was how do you accommodate that and not jeopardize principles which are important principles.
From the Floor:
Could you define proportionality for us?
The discussions in regard to proportionality have really been misunderstood and have been one of the sources of tension because they may not have been articulated as well as they should have been. It appears that there is a sense because the Task Force report suggests that proportionality should be a goal of every institution without talking about the other two benchmarks which are part of Title IX and part of the Brown case, that that's all that the Task Force was concerned about.
In fact, one of the first statements in the Task Force Report is that it is the responsibility of the association's members to comply with federal and state laws regarding gender equity. Title IX deals with proportionality and has been interpreted through the appeal at Brown University to be as follows: "The parties agree that the third compliance area is the field on which the appeal must be fought. In surveying the dimensions of this battleground, that is, whether an athletic program effectively accommodates students' interests and abilities, the policy interpretations maps a trinitarian model under which the university must meet at least one of three benchmarks --number one, whether intercollegiate level participation opportunities for male and female students are provided in numbers substantially proportionate to the respective enrollments. Number two, where the members of one sex have been and are under-represented among intercollegiate athletes, whether the institution can show a history and continuing practice of program expansion which is demonstrably responsive to the developing interests and abilities of the members of that sex or, number three, where the members of one sex are under-represented among intercollegiate athletes and the institution cannot show a continuing practice of program expansion such as that sighted above, whether it can be demonstrated that the interests and abilities of the members of that sex have been fully and effectively accommodated by the
Basically, the three benchmarks are to use your enrollment proportions as the first benchmark. If your participation does not parallel those ratios, the second questions is, whether or not there has been steady progress toward increasing the opportunities for the under-represented gender. The third benchmark is whether the interests and abilities of the under-represented group has been fully accommodated.
From the Panel:
This case is an appellate ruling. None of us up here are attorneys, nor are we representatives of the federal government. But, this is the highest court ruling regarding Title IX and if you do not have a copy, a good thing to have in your files. It clarifies, for the first time, in a way we've not had before, how the courts are viewing compliance with Title IX.
From the Floor:
Could you define substantially proportionate?
Three of the consultants on the panel were representatives from the Office of Civil Rights, which was a helpful tool to us.
In describing the situation at Brown University, I have some information that suggests the following. TI first question is whether women participate in intercollegiate athletics in numbers substantially proportionate their representation in the student body. The court does not define substantially proportionate, but does affir the district court's finding that the relationship at Brown, between a 48 percent and a 36.7 percent female
athletic participation rate is not substantially proportionate. Indeed, the court states that Brown did not even closely approach the substantial proportionality threshold.
I was just going to say what Judy said, but I want to add to that from what I understand from our consultants and the OCR, I tried to get some figures out of them and they said that everything that has entered the court that was anything more than 10 was clearly not substantial. So, they were very reticent to give a figure, but the figure you said in terms of a five percent is a figure that I have heard that people are trying to use as some latitude knowing that also, from year to year, your undergraduate enrollment may differ, or from a five-year period to five-year period, it may differ. There can be, in fact, a mean taken from that number. But it was a surprise to many institutions to find that the difference which was a 14 percent difference was seen as very substantial and not even close to what the manual or the courts have said. We're waiting for the courts to give us more of a practical definition or operative way to approach this.
Specific numbers are always more comforting because then you know what you're working with, but by the same token, the government has recognized the fact that there are shifts in populations in your institution and to require an absolute specific quantification really is not to your benefit because you'd be dropping and adding every year in some instances if you have a population which has change. I think they have been purposely vague and I think you should embrace that because it gives you the ability to plan a little bit.
It serves you well and I think that vagueness is something we can all work with that.
I just want to add one other thing that came to light in the second of the three prongs where it talks about the steady and continual progress to increase opportunities. I found interesting that they did not consider if you had done it 10 years ago or five years ago, that that was relative enough to your future. Brown talks about the fact that it has to have been steady, therefore, you must say what have you done last year and what have you done this year and what are you doing next year. They found that while Brown did an escalation some 12 years ago, then they did nothing after a seven-year period of time.
That's something to help the membership, to say when was the last thing we did, what incremental action to help that quantity and quality .
As you develop you plans, you want to develop a continuum. You want that line to look like steady progress that you're planning steady progress toward those goals. That is smiled upon by the courts.
From the Floor:
Is the major issue with the Minority Report proportionality?
That is correct. There are really two things. There is a statement on revenue generation which twice was approved by the committee and didn't make the final report and should have. There's a revenue generation statement that's important to I-A and the other is the proportionality question. We have another meeting at the end of the month and we hope to revisit that issue then.
To add to what Phyllis was saying, I was going to reiterate that the most challenging part is trying to pull all of these people together. The one thing I would like to recommend to everyone is to make sure, first, that you read the preliminary report. Look for reaction.
The second thing you need to understand is that it is a preliminary report. Nothing is etched in stone. It is the work of a committee and, as you can hear, there were varied views on the committee, but it's also to take a look at that report and provide some feedback to the national office. The deadline is June 11, which is in a couple of days.
I was at the San Francisco hearing and I hope some of you have been at others. My feeling that the story that appears in this week's NCAA News is not representative to what I heard to be a generally positive response to the work on the Task Force. I'm disappointed in that story because in San Francisco, the people who came and spoke were supportive of the report.
Keep in mind that the proportionality thing is not a creation of the Task Force. That's a creation of federal law. What the Task Force has attempted to do is help people understand what the federal law is saying.
There is a very distinct difference from the standpoint of resources. But the first question in terms of interest and opportunities is the same whether it's Division lor Division III. That question needs to be answered before we go any further in determining what resources are available and what resources need to be allocated. I think the Task Force has been sensitive to that.
The other question that the Task Force has really been very sensitive to, but has been a very difficult one, is the uniqueness of football, recognizing that football is important to our campuses, but there is not comparable women's sport. The approach of the Task Force has not been to take away opportunities for men, but try to identify ways to increase opportunities for women.
The result of that has been two-fold. Number one, to identify what has been labeled emerging sports for women which the NCAA would recognize in meeting membership requirements. There would be a list of sports where an institution would get credit for meeting membership requirements. In Division I, they would also get credit through the revenue distribution plan.
The second step that I think is very important and will directly impact Division III is increasing championship opportunities and encouraging institutions to provide more sport participation opportunities for women, especially those who are striving to have some vehicle for demonstrating their accomplishments through the championship program. Both of those steps are very significant for Division III programs.
We sincerely mean we want your input. I want you to look at those emerging sports and tell us if we are on the right track. Please give us feedback. Secondly, start on your own campus. Your resources are there. Just start to talk and make your plan. I think you'll find the courts are friendly if you can demonstrate evidence that you are working on it. It's not nearly as frightening once you've started the progress. Start talking about how are we going to get there. If you ask enough people and have the right kind of people on your campuses, you'll find solutions.