Sports and Title IX
No Providence For Three Teams
At 5 p.m. on Oct. 6, while the Providence baseball team practiced, Friars coach Charlie Hickey was summoned to athletic director John Marinatto's office and told that Hickey's program would be terminated after the 1999 season. Death sentences were also issued to the men's tennis and golf teams. The cutbacks were part of Providence's effort to comply with Title IX, the federal antidiscrimination law that requires, among other things, that athletes representing a college reflect the female-male ratio of the student body. "Everybody in college athletics is aware of the possible implications of Title IX, but I never believed that my team would be sacrificed," Hickey says.
The downsizing is particularly striking because the Friars don't field a team in football, a sport that creates a daunting imbalance between the number of male and female athletes. "If a school without football can lose its baseball team, then I'm afraid any team is subject to being eliminated," Hickey says.
Providence's actions were prompted by an upcoming NCAA certification review and were perhaps hastened by a recent lawsuit across the city at Brown, where female athletes successfully sued their school for failing to comply with Title IX. (Brown decided to settle the six-year case, which had reached the Supreme Court, this summer; die settlement includes, among other things, a guarantee of more money for women's sports teams.) Marinatto points out that men's sports at Providence were particularly susceptible to cutbacks because female students make up 59% of the student body but only 46% of die athletes. "With our skewed gender balance and our limited resources, eliminating programs was the only way we could go," Marinatto says. "It doesn't sound fair, does it?"
On Oct. 7 at Providence's Alumni Gym, about 275 students staged a sit-in objecting to the cuts. The protesters included more than 100 women, among them Mirandi Balg, a senior co-captain of the field hockey team, which stands to benefit from the reallocation of athletic funds. "Women athletes want more opportunities, but Title IX wasn't designed to take away opportunities from others," Balg says. "Somebody better do something soon to fix die law because right now it hurts more athletes than it helps."
Race and Sports
MLS Takes the Offensive
Major League Soccer demonstrated some heads-up play last week in response to a potentially divisive racial incident. At a New England Revolution practice on Oct. 6, Dutch midfielder Edwin Goner, who is white, directed a racial slur at Trinidadian midfielder David Nakhid, who is black. Two days later Gorter admitted the offense to MLS commissioner Doug Logan, who slapped him with a $20,000 fine, the league's stiffest ever, and suspended him for the first two games of the 1999 season.
But MLS didn't stop there. Logan said that he is going to use the money from Gorter's fine to pay for diversity training seminars for players, coaches and front-office employees from all of the league's 12 teams. The daylong sessions, which will take place during next year's spring training, will be conducted by the Teamwork Leadership Institute, headed by Richard Lapchick, director of Northeastern University's Center for the Study of Sport in Society.
"Because MLS players come from a wide variety of environments, maybe they aren't sensitized to the results of what they say or do in this country," says Logan. "We bear the responsibility to educate people about that."
Golf and the Law
Cart 54, Where Are You?