The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


SMU skimping on women

Tyler Williams/The Daily Campus
Head Coach Ronda Rompola speaks with members of the team during a timeout.

Head Coach Ronda Rompola speaks with members of the team during a timeout. (Tyler Williams/The Daily Campus)

In 1972 Congress mandated that colleges equalize spending on men and women’s athletic teams. Forty years later, SMU is still shortchanging female athletes, according to records and interviews.

In 2010 to 2011, SMU officials spent almost $2 on male athletes for every $1 spent on women, according to statistics reported by SMU to the U.S. Department of Education. The university provided female athletes with $10 million while giving men $19.25 million, records show.

Christine Elliott, a senior who has been a member of the SMU’s women’s basketball team for four years, said she knew SMU spent more on male athletes but was surprised the gap was so great.

“It’s wrong to do that. I think its discrimination,” Elliott, who is majoring in sociology and minoring in women’s rights, said. “Women’s sports are second-class compared to men’s sports.”

Officials said the SMU athletic department is in compliance with Title IX, a landmark federal act, which prohibits universities from discriminating against women.

Beth Wilson, associate vice-president and Title IX coordinator, said the university has done a superlative job meeting federal requirements. “I think we’ve done pretty much what we needed to do,” she said. “I think the issues have been addressed or are being addressed.”

Wilson said she could not discuss why SMU spends twice as much on men’s sports compared to female athletes until she reviewed the data SMU submitted to the Department of Education. When a reporter offered the records to her, Wilson refused to look at them.

Dr. Ellen Jackofsky, an accounting professor in the Cox School of Business and a member of the Faculty Senate Athletic Policies Committee from 1995 to 2011, reviewed SMU’s athletic spending. When asked if the records showed SMU in compliance with Title IX, she said, “Absolutely not.”

“This shouldn’t be happening,” Jackofsky said. “I’m disappointed to hear that, to know that’s where we are.”

Some students said the spending disparity is understandable for a simple reason.

“Come on, it’s football,” Gerardo Padierna, a first-year student, said. “Football is king.”

Others said the disparity is disturbing.

“This is a lawsuit waiting to happen,” sophomore Katherine Montgomery said.

One scholar who has studied the efforts of colleges to comply with Title IX gave SMU a C+. Using 2006 to 2007 data for 115 Division 1-A universities, Charles L. Kennedy ranked SMU 44.

He graded schools based on participation opportunities and scholarships for female athletes, the operating and recruiting budgets for female teams, and coaches’ salaries.

Conference USA, whose members include SMU, earned a D grade and ranked last.

The Big East, which SMU soon will be joining, also earned a D and ranked only two places higher than C-USA.

Student athletes aren’t the only ones affected by SMU’s shortcomings.

The head coaches and assistant coaches of men’s teams are all male.

Men also hold the majority of head coaching positions on the women’s teams.

Financial aid is awarded unequally.

In 2010-2011, SMU awarded $13.1 million in scholarship aid to student athletes. Male athletes received $7.4 million or 56 percent of the total.

This disparity is nothing new. Records show SMU has failed for years to achieve the parity required by Title IX. The university’s failure to comply with Title IX became such an issue in 2002 that the National Collegiate Athletic Association refused to recertify SMU.

According to a 2002 report by the Faculty Senate Athletic Policies Committee, the NCAA would not provide final recertification for SMU because it was not in “substantial compliance with NCAA/Title IX requirements for gender equity.”

The NCAA said SMU had failed to equalize spending on scholarships for female athletes, the number of female teams, the number of participants in women’s sports and the total amount of money spent on women’s sports.

Jackofsky said her committee responded to NCAA findings by creating a Gender Equity Plan that established goals and a timetable for meeting for them.

One called for an increase in salary for women so as to achieve “equitable salaries for men’s and women’s assistant coaches.”
This goal, set in 2002, was supposed to be met each budget cycle. But this has yet to happen.

The university’s most recent figures show that assistant coaches on SMU women’s teams received an average salary of $61,441, while assistant coaches on men’s teams average twice as much, taking in $136,200.

Tessa White, a sophomore, called the gap in spending “sexist,” adding, “I think that’s going back to the days when women couldn’t do sports.”

Jackofsky said giving up women’s gains is unacceptable.

Near the end of the interview she sat back and said, “Hearing about this makes me want to get back on the board and fix it.”

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