By Gina Vaile/Managing editor
Sports teams can bring fan excitement, school spirit and revenues to a university. However, they cannot be started without money. In order to better comply with Title IX, Eastern Athletics would like to add another sports team to the program — a women’s soccer team.
In order to pay for the new team, Eastern students would be asked to pay an extra $30 annually in addition to the current $180 athletics fee already paid each year.
“It’s my plan to raise other funds,” said Athletics Director John Shafer in his address to the Student Senate in its regular business meeting Tuesday.
Remembering back to a time when college athletics departments thought women didn’t have to be given equal rights like their male counterparts, Shafer said those times are over.
“We need to add this team not because it is law, but because it is the right thing to do,” he said.
According to Shafer, every competitive school in the Ohio Valley Conference offers a women’s soccer team except for Eastern and Tennessee State University.
“We need this team to stay in compliance of Title IX and for our future,” he said.
The proposed increase would generate approximately $300,000 a year for the new team. Shafer said the installation of the team would be broken into three prongs over three years:
n secure a space for the team,
n recruit a coach, playing members, a field and other needs,
n the implementation of the team.
Shafer said the university would not see the soccer team until 2006.
He explained to the Senate the details of Title IX including the amount of scholarships given per sport. While the university has an equal amount of men’s and women’s teams, he said the greater issue is school enrollment.
According to Shafer, university compliance to Title IX is based on both school enrollment numbers and the amount of athletes in the athletic program.
Shafer said he believes Eastern has a 59 percent female population and 41 percent male population. Those numbers allow room for the university to add more scholarships for female athletics to represent enrollment figures proportionately and better comply with Title IX.
Shafer also said the presence of a football team knocks out equality in many universities.
“It would take two to four times more women’s sports than men’s to keep it equal and offer the same opportunities when a football team is present,” Shafer said.
Senators concerned with the increase in the athletics fee voiced opinions for nearly half an hour.
Student Rights Chair Kristina O’Brien said she was concerned the $15 per-semester fee would remain forever and be increased as years go by.
“I can say honestly swimming is something I’d like to look at,” Shafer said, noting the university will look into including other sports in the years to come, which could increase the athletics fee even more.
“Every bit of the money (current $180 fee) will go to other sports. The $15 (per semester) is strictly earmarked for soccer,” he said.
Freshman Senator Amanda Deerfield said she was concerned Title IX may cause inequality in the men’s arena. Deerfield said she hoped a men’s soccer team would also be added.
Shafer said in the future, it could be a possibility.
Shafer is also hoping to fundraise community dollars to support not only the women’s soccer team, but also for the rest of the athletics department.
“I look at this as an opportunity in this state for young women to come to EKU and compete for this great institution. It would enhance the recruitment and the retention of the student body,” Shafer said.