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IS UND PLAYING A FAIR GAME? PANEL STUDIES INEQUITIES IN WOMEN'S, MEN'S SPORTS PROGRAMS

UND President Kendall Baker is being urged to go after more money to correct inequities between men's and women's athletic programs, even as he tries to absorb $5 million in state spending cuts the next two years.

A campus panel that has spent months comparing, the treatment of women's and men's sports at UND says in a report there are "significant inequities" in budgets, travel, coaching salaries and other athletic support.

UND's administration hasn't detailed its response, but has signaled it sees the report as a springboard for stronger women's programs.

Big and little gaps

Examples of problems cited by the Athletic Gender Equity Study Committee ranged from small differences, such as a practice of issuing travel sweatsuits to men, but not women basketball players, to larger gaps like "the understaffing and underfunding" of volleyball.

Volleyball, though one of the main women's sports at UND, gets only one-third as much money as men's basketball, said the report that was released this week.

"Although women accounted for 46.5 percent of the student body," the committee notes "they comprised only 23 percent of UND student athletes who participate in both intra- and intercollegiate sports."

So far, UND hasn't joined the growing list of colleges in other state that are adding women's sports to improve participation, but the athletic department has indicated it is open to ideas as studies continue in the year ahead.

Sports other campuses have been adding or talking about to improve women's participation include bowling, racquetball, soccer, tennis and water polo.

Favorable reception

The equity study panel chaired by UND Processor Melissa Parker has had a favorable reception from Athletic Director Terry Wanless. He's been closely involved in the study and has made program adjustments along the way.

Since the committee began meeting in January, a full-time assistant basketball coach was hired, the salary of the women's track and cross-country coach was increased, and a larger "media" book for women's basketball was developed. Just recently, arrangements were made for a courtesy car for new volleyball coach Nancy Clark.

Overall, though, the UND panel of six men and six women including two student athletes, determined the university would need an aggressive, long-term sustained effort, with more outside money, to improve women's opportunities.

Committee members emphasized the changes should come without sacrificing opportunities in men's sports.

Here are the main areas identified for attention in the study that began last winter:

Budgets: In basketball, for example, men receive twice as much for recruiting and communications as the women.

Salaries: Coaches of women's teams generally have lower salaries and have had lower rates of increases. Salaries at time of study ranged from $22,600 for volleyball to $62,600 for hockey.

Opportunities to get coaching: They're directly dependent on budgets, and the inequities were found particularly serious in women's basketball and volleyball.

Support: Significant differences include lack of clerical or secretarial support for women's programs. "Level 1" men's sports (such as basketball, football, hockey) have full-time secretaries; women's sports do not and coaches' time is diverted to do paperwork and arrange travel.

Recruitment: Men's sports get more courtesy cars. While hockey and men's basketball each had use of two cars and football five cars, women's basketball and volleyball shared a car for nine months.

Travel: Volleyball team traveled by van, considered less comfortable, less safe than bus travel, as used for most men's sports. (The hockey team primarily travel by plane). Inequities existed in numbers of students assigned to rooms and meal allotments.

Publicity: There has been no planned, sustained effort to promote women's athletics by either the UND administration or office of sports information.

Recommendations for UND athletics

Ensure there's a strong advocate and visible promoter of women's athletics.

Establish long-term goals and policies that will lead to greater equity in program development.

Address inequities in salaries and budgets.

Address inequities in coaching staffs.

Recognize need for more "external funding" and the role that a development director could have in raising outside money.

Source: Summer '93 report of UND Athletic Gender Equity Study Committee.

Grand Forks Herald, August 21, 1993