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WIDE GAP IN FUNDING FOR ATHLETICS

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Just when he thought he wasn't going to have to study over the holidays, University of Utah President Arthur K. Smith got a copy of the gender equity in athletics report he'd requested. The report is full of numbers, charts and story problems. There are some pretty hard problems - questions like these:

Why does the men's tennis team have a recruiting budget of $3,000 more than the women's tennis team when the team sizes are the same?Why do some teams only receive $20 per diem when they travel, whereas others receive $27, particularly when the majority of the women only receive $20 a day?

Why does the women's basketball coach make only half as much base salary - only one-fourth as much in overall compensation - as the men's basketball coach?

Why, with 70 percent (244) male athletes and 30 percent (102) female athletes, do men consume 83 percent ($427,650) versus 16 percent ($86,125) of the recruiting budget?

Smith called the 16-member task force on gender equity, under the direction of Associate Athletics Director Fern Gardner, in early 1994.

The task force commended the University of Utah Athletics Department for making changes to improve the status of women's sports but concluded the university is not yet in compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

In order to comply with federal law, as well as the spirit and philosophy of gender equity, there should be the same percentage of female athletes as female students, the report says. During the 1993-94 school year, 44.5 percent of the undergraduate students were female, but only 29 percent of the athletes were female.

The disparity of 15 percent has been fairly constant since the late 1980s. Before that time, the disparity was even greater.

Smith is on vacation. However, in a press release which accompanied the report he says, "It may well be that no Division 1A university in the country is currently in full compliance with Title IX, at least according to the strict proportionality standard applied by the federal courts."

Twenty years ago, when Title IX became law, the women's athletic's program had one scholarship athlete and and an operating budget of $15,600. A decade later, in 1983, 93 of 102 female athletes got financial aid and the budget was $600,000, which was 16 percent of the $3.7 Athletics Department budget. This school year, women's athletics gets $1.89 million, which is 27 percent of the total $7.08 million budget.

The 100-page report did not shy away from making specific recommendations, such as giving immediate attention to disparities in coaching salaries within the same sport and taking $20,500 from the recruiting budget of the men's basketball team, in order to bring it into line with other teams' recruiting budgets.

Smith said the report recommended a gradual but steady progress toward achieving gender equity in athletics and he does not envision a reduction in men's sports programs, "which would adversely affect opportunities for male students," but rather an expansion of women's programs through new resource allocations. He also said he agrees in principle with the report's conclusions and will forward a copy to Athletics Director Chris Hill.