Chris Voelz, passionate as ever for women's athletics, was back at her old University of Minnesota stomping ground Wednesday morning to jar Minnesotans out of any complacency they may have lately acquired about gender equity in college sports.
Voelz made plenty of feminist waves between 1988 and 2002 as the last Golden Gopher women's athletic director — a position that was eliminated in Minnesota and around the country as colleges opted to eliminate the gender separation in sports administration. Voelz left Minnesota soon thereafter; today she's executive director of the Los Angeles-based Collegiate Women Sports Awards.
The merger of men's and women's athletic departments has not yet produced a happy ending for female coaches and student athletes, Voelz said. She was the featured guest at the seventh annual Jean Freeman Breakfast, part of the University of Minnesota's observance of National Girls and Women in Sport Day.
Men hold 80 percent of collegiate athletic director and head coaching positions in the country, she said. They also hold 70 percent of associate and 66 percent of assistant athletic director positions, a share that has barely budged in the past 15 years.
Every Division I school in the country spends more per student on male than female athletes, Voelz said. That disparity ranges from $1,000 per student to a whopping $30,000.
In the past 10 years, U.S. colleges have expanded sports teams in order to create 43,000 more opportunities for male students to play at the intercollegiate level. The comparable expansion for female students is 37,000, she said, citing NCAA statistics.
"It is time that we debunk the perpetuated myth that Title IX has caused men to lose opportunities. It simply is not so," Voelz said.
Title IX, barring gender discrimination by any educational program receiving federal funds, has revolutionized sports for women since its enactment in 1972. But revolutions take time — and with people like Voelz still pushing for change, this one may not yet be over.
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