News From Terre Haute, Indiana

June 23, 2012

FIRST IN A SERIES: ISU plays Title IX balance game

Craig Pearson
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Part of complying with Title IX in Division I athletics is playing the numbers game, said Indiana State senior women’s administrator Angie Lansing, who works with assistant athletic director Joel McMullen on roster size of all the ISU teams.

One thing the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights examines as far as athletics is if the campus athletic department reflects the entire university community. ISU’s campus population is 51.5 percent female and 48.5 percent male.  

“So basically our campus population is more predominantly female, which means our athletic participation is supposed to mirror that,” Lansing said.  

With six men’s sports at Indiana State and eight women’s sports, it’s still a challenge to balance those numbers.

“What’s hard to match on the women’s side is our football numbers,” Lansing said.  

Football is allowed 63 scholarships, but roster size includes more than 90 players. Women’s sports like soccer (2003) and golf (2005) were added to help resolve the imbalance.

“Right now, we’ve been trying to manage rosters so we’ve been asking our men to stay at minimums and our women to go up to higher numbers,” Lansing said. “Our coaches are asked to take on higher numbers than they want to so it can be hard to keep everyone happy. Women’s basketball is allowed to offer 15 scholarships, but our staff would prefer to be more around 13.”

Lansing said that ISU also added funding for women’s sports in 2008.  

“You can see how far we’ve come with Title IX,” Lansing said. “It has presented women opportunities than women didn’t have that men did. The heart of its intent is valid and we need that. It’s unfortunate when the negative aspect gets people thinking it’s a bad thing.”

For example, Indiana State had successful programs like wrestling, men’s gymnastics and produced high-profile athletes such as four-time Olympic medalist wrestler Bruce Baumgartner and five-time NCAA champ Kurt Thomas in gymnastics. Those programs were both dropped in the 1980s.

Some blame Title IX, although it’s hard to understand the entirety of the budget issues the ISU administrators may have faced then, Lansing said.

“You don’t want to jump to conclusions, but that is how some people view it. Some people turn Title IX into a negative,” Lansing said.

With ISU’s student body continuing to trend toward more female students, Director of Athletics Ron Prettyman asked his staff to research the possible women’s sports that the Sycamores could add, Lansing said.

“We’re stretching farther in an unfavorable direction for us. What we’re discussing is the potential to add another women’s sport,” Lansing said.

Tumbling — a gymnastics type sport — has been looked into by a few universities, but travel expenses to compete would be a major concern. The ideal sport would have a large roster size and low expenses otherwise.

“If you add a sport, you want something that’s going to get you the numbers that you need. Some that we’ve looked at or will be looking at are sand volleyball, lacrosse, some that are more feasible around here than others,” Lansing said. “You’ve got to look at what the people around the region are competing in. We’re at the point where I think we may possibly be looking at adding another sport, but something like that doesn’t happen very quickly, but maybe in a five-year span.”