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


Title IX resurfaces in SMU athletics

Women athletes say they feel they face an uphill battle at the university

For Stacy, a student at SMU, rowing is one of the most important activities in her life. But she says that in the eyes of the school’s athletic administrators, it is little more than an afterthought.

“I know that my sport is not a spectator sport, it is not a revenue sport like basketball or football,” Stacy, a member of the school’s rowing team who asked not to be identified, said.

“At the same time we should be getting much more support from the athletic department like better equipment, uniforms, boathouse and regatta.”

Athletic administrators at SMU said Stacy is wrong. They said they do everything possible to promote all sports on campus from rowing to football.

“Our marketing staff is responsible for an SMU sports billboard in south Dallas that features men’s and women’s players,” Brad Sutton, assistant athletic director for media relations, said.

As for the athletics department’s position that it does everything possible to promote all SMU sports, Stacy said her own experience shows otherwise.SMU recruited Stacy in high school.

She was excited about the opportunity to be involved in college athletics. She knew that rowing would probably not be a primary sport, however, she was surprised at how little attention it got compared to men’s sports.

“I think the message being sent by the athletic department is that performance doesn’t matter,” Stacy said.

“More money keeps going into the losing football team while the rest of us get little attention.”

“This is absolutely not the case,” Sutton said.

SMU, like every other university in the country, is required to provide women with the same opportunities on the same playing field as men.A landmark law known as Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 bans sex discrimination in schools in academics or athletics. The NCAA is charged with enforcing the law with regards to college athletics.Tremendous progress is being made at SMU.

To maintain compliance with NCAA requirements, SMU plans to add a new women’s sport every two or three years. SMU added a women’s volleyball team in 1996, a female rowing team in 1999 and a women’s equestrian team in 2003.

But in the eyes of Stacy, SMU has a long way to go. Stacy said SMU should do more to promote her program, including helping the team with walk-on recruiting. Walk on recruiting allows women not recruited by the university, to try out for a spot on the team.

“Because we are a small school it is difficult for us to keep high numbers. We need help,” Stacy said.

“Our team struggles every year to recruit new members,” Stacy continued, “We put up flyers and hold meetings but we can only do so much.”

Women athletes face struggles off the field as well. In the spring, the athletic department cut the men’s track team that included several Olympic hopefuls and award-winning WAC athletes.

Several students and male athletes suggested that the team was eliminated because of SMU’s failure to meet Title IX regulations requiring more funding for women’s teams if the men’s track team were to remain.

It is very upsetting to Stacy and her teammates that some use Title IX as a scapegoat for cutting men’s programs like the track program that was eliminated last spring.

“It hurts us to know that people blame us for the elimination of men’s track,” Stacy said.

“We were as upset as the guys. It should be a slap in the face to Jim Copeland that some of these men went on to compete in the Olympics.”

She said the program was cut due to poor management by the athletic department.The athletic department declined to comment on this.

La Toya Greer, a sophomore corporate communications major, said Stacy’s larger concerns are valid.

“Equal rights are important for women, especially today,” Greer said.

“Female athletes deserve the same amount of respect as male athletes.”

“I think the rowers, equestrian and maybe even the volleyball teams are ignored, but not because they are a female team,” said Andrew Barnett, a senior engineering major.

“They are ignored because they are not big ticket events.”

Although Stacy believes there is more work to be done at SMU to improve women’s athletics, she and her teammates are proud to be members of SMU’s rowing team.

“On a whole the rowers are happy to be here,” Stacy said.

“We’re all here because we love it, not because of the money provided to our program or scholarships. Most of us are here on partial scholarships. Why else would we wake up at 5 a.m. to be on the lake to practice?”

“We train very hard, and we’re not asking for more support than other programs, just an equal amount.”

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