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Public college will adjust sports budget to achieve ‘gender equity’ in campus sports

School will ‘adjust team rosters and funding’

In an attempt to equalize participation and turnout for student athletes of both sexes, the College of William and Mary will soon be adjusting its athletics budget to “achieve gender equity” in campus sports by the middle of the next decade.

Samantha Huge, the school’s athletic director, is leading the push to realign the school’s sports department with Title IX principles, seeking to “achieve gender equity or come very close,” as she said recently.

The Virginia Gazette reported that the school’s strategic plan, which will be available to the public this fall, will seek to “adjust team rosters and funding to improve the balance of opportunity and support across men’s and women’s teams, reducing the size of the participation gap each year.” There are reportedly “35 more men student-athletes than women” at the school.

Attempts to reach Samantha Huge for more information about the department’s planned “gender equity” were unsuccessful. Aimee Clark, the chief of staff of the school’s athletics department, passed The Fix’s query on to athletics spokesman Pete Clawson. Clawson told The Fix that Huge was out of the office but would be in at a later date. Huge never responded to The Fix‘s queries, including a voicemail left on her school line.

‘Concerted effort to diversify’

A “strategic review” of the school’s athletics department, undertaken over the last year by an external firm, indicated that diversity was lacking in that division.

“Females and persons of color are under-represented on the W&M Athletics staff. There must be a concerted effort to diversify by race and gender in coaches, administrators and staff. By not having a more diverse and inclusive environment, W&M Athletics may be viewed by some as privileged and elitist,” the strategic review stated.

The review states that out of 135 employees in the athletics sector, 70 percent are male and 30 percent are female, while just 14 percent are nonwhite. In coaches the disparity is even more lopsided: Out of 95 coaches, 83 percent are male and 17 percent are female, while 9 percent are non-white.

Of the student-athlete population, meanwhile, 67 percent are white while 13 percent are black.

Disparity doesn’t always favor men

According to The Gazette, the head coaches of the men’s teams make an average of more than $55,000 per year above the head coaches for the female teams. However, in some sports, women coaches make higher salaries than men. The school’s women’s soccer coach makes a salary of nearly $20,000 more than the coach for the men’s team.

The Gazette reported that Clawson, the athletics spokesman, claimed that the “largest determining factor for coaching staff salaries is what the market dictates.”

Adherence to Title IX principles is not without its pitfalls. In some instances, interpretations of Title IX have resulted in an effective “quota system” on campuses, in which male athletes are denied spots on sports teams in order to “ensure that the gender radio of the school mirrors all varsity participants.”

At a town hall meeting this past summer, The Gazette reported, Huge told a crowd that it’s “always a challenge to ensure we are complying with Title IX not only because it’s legal — it’s the right thing to do.” She said that the department had “set a course” to achieve gender equity.

“And we are moving in that direction,” she added.

MORE: Sports threatened by Title IX because men like them more than women do

IMAGE: Dan Thornberg / Shutterstock.com

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About the Author
Ema Gavrilovic -- DePaul University