The inaugural 2011 Roadrunner football season is rapidly approaching and the buzz on campus is growing noticeably louder.
Coupling a common rallying point with additional revenue opportunities, UTSA football certainly bodes well for the future publicity of the university as it aims to compete at the top level and strive for Tier I status.
There’s just one problem: the addition of the football program could knock UTSA out of Title IX compliance.
Passed in 1972, Title IX is a law that requires federally-funded academic institutions to provide equal athletic opportunities to male and female students. The spirit of the law is to ensure that female athletic interests aren’t shut out or overshadowed in administrative consideration by male sports.
The law is essentially comprised of a three-pronged compliance test – equal participation opportunities, proportional awarding of athletic scholarships and equal athletic program components (i.e. training facilities, travel allowances, recruitment budget, etc) – and the university must pass at least one of the tests. The charge of maintaining Title IX belongs to Athletic Director Lynn Hickey.
Prior to the addition of the men’s football team, UTSA’s male-female student athlete ratio was actually swayed in favor of the women; this wasn’t a coincidence. Always looking a few steps ahead, Hickey explained that both “the women’s golf (added in 2004) and soccer (added in 2006) teams were included not only to address the wants of the students, but also with consideration that men’s football might be added in the future.”
UTSA football currently has only 26 scholarship players on the roster, which doesn’t tip the balance just yet, but the number will grow to a total of 60 scholarships as recruits fill out the team over the next few years. That’s only while they compete at the NCAA FCS level; UTSA is looking to eventually compete at the more prestigious NCAA FBS level by 2014 – that means the roster will swell to 85 scholarship athletes.
“It’s important to not only demonstrate a history of providing for equal opportunity (to both sexes), but also to develop a plan for the future,” Hickey said.
Hickey also explained that the University is looking into women’s swimming, lacrosse, bowling, equestrian, crew and/or sand volleyball as potential additions at a to-be-determined date.
“The challenge in adding any sport is securing adequate competition, determining student interest and raising the funds for new facilities.” Hickey said.
To assist her in this continued task, Hickey has assigned Deputy Athletic Director Elizabeth Dalton to oversee Title IX compliance and associated research. A more concrete plan –including a student interest survey– will begin emerge by spring 2011.