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TOO FAR, TOO FAST
Kent Hannon
March 20, 1978
Though Title IX was intended to enrich all women's college sports, the attention has gone to basketball. As a result, the game's unrestrained growth has burdened it with rules-flouting coaches and players who are transferring at will
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March 20, 1978

Too Far, Too Fast

Though Title IX was intended to enrich all women's college sports, the attention has gone to basketball. As a result, the game's unrestrained growth has burdened it with rules-flouting coaches and players who are transferring at will

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"This may sound funny, but the NCAA made its mark in infractions," says Big Ten Commissioner Wayne Duke, who, along with Walter Byers, two secretaries and a bookkeeper, constituted the entire NCAA staff in 1952. "It was when the NCAA put the Kentucky basketball team on probation in '52 that people really took notice that severe punishments would be handed out."

Faith, trust and good intentions, words left over from early NCAA conventions, were bandied about at the Colony Square in Atlanta as though they were a three-member enforcement unit all by themselves. But only stronger legislation can control the unrestrained growth of women's basketball. Rather than crowing about a purity that does not exist, the women might better take a good look at the NCAA—which despite its failings has strong rules and takes significant measures to enforce them—and try to improve on it.

The AIAW's unwillingness to institute rigorous procedures to police infractions was one of the causes of the rift that became evident in Atlanta between those who want broad-based athletic programs for women and those who have decided that ego gratification and a day in the sun are what women deserve after years of athletic deprivation. A disproportionate share of the monies mandated by Title IX, which could be used to add a varsity field-hockey team to a school's program or to fund a traveling schedule for the volleyball squad, is being spent to hype the basketball program at places like Old Dominion. The question of emphasis has been argued by Karol Kahrs of the University of Illinois and by Cal Papatsos of Queens (N.Y.) College.

Kahrs, an assistant director of women's athletics, registered her disgust while the AIAW convention was in the midst of a heated battle over whether a school should have to offer a specified number of other sports in order to compete in Division I basketball. Her message was this: "I didn't hear anybody mention her budget when we were talking about providing tutors for athletes. I didn't hear anybody mention her budget when we were voting to give scholarships. But now that we're asking a school to provide other sports besides basketball, all I hear is how budgets won't allow them."

Papatsos, a retired faculty member, is one of the AIAW's most avid feminists and its resident pragmatist. "Success has many prices," she says. "How do you measure what women have paid in their quest for equality? When Title IX came along we had to take the whole bag, and that started the dilemma. Men were getting blazers, so we wanted them, too. Women are no different than men when it comes to handling power. When we get it, the same negatives will apply. So what? Personally, I've always wanted to do two things. One, escape to Brazil with $1 million in embezzled funds, because that would mean a woman finally had access to that kind of cash. Second, write The Godmother."

Critics of Walter Byers, the Godfather of the NCAA, claim he no longer worries about controlling men's games, as long as the promotion of them is going well. A similar statement could be made about the AIAW leadership, which apparently does not plan to lose any sleep over the incidences of wrongdoing, as long as it does not interfere with the women's quest for a fair share of the action.

"Enforcing rules that people don't really want to obey can be a lonely task," says Duke. "It doesn't make you feel good when you come home at night. I try to remain optimistic. But I've been going to NCAA conventions for 25 years, and I see much the same problems now as I always did. Just different people, different faces. Maybe in the near future those faces will belong to women."

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