Underserved female athletes in district seek equity

Title IX concerns spark meetings held to gauge student interest in a adding women's sport program

By Lorenzo Morotti, Editor-in-Chief

The athletic department will hold another open meeting to gauge student interest in adding another women’s athletic program on March 19 at 1 p.m. in GA-40.

Athletic Director John Wade said he set up this second meeting because the first one, held in early December, only attracted one Contra Costa College student.

Jim Ulversoy, kinesiology instructor and swim program coordinator, said, “We need to get out there and post more flyers and try to develop contacts. Each individual program needs to get out there and do its part.”

Students who attend the meeting will be able to advocate either for badminton, cross-country, track, diving/swimming or water polo.

Currently CCC has four women’s, as well as four men’s, sports programs.

“This is only an interest survey,” Wade said, “I cannot guarantee that (CCC is) adding a new women’s sports team. We are just finding out if the interest is there.”

He said talks of adding a women’s sports team at CCC began because coaches at sister college Diablo Valley College filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

OCR strives to ensure equal access to education by serving student populations facing discrimination and the advocates and institutions promoting systemic solutions to civil rights problems.

CCC Interim President Mojdeh Mehdizadeh said a complaint was filed about four years ago when DVC attempted to eliminate six sports programs, three male teams and three female teams.

Mehdizadeh said while they did not eliminate any individual sports program, it did place the Contra Costa Community College District on notice by OCR because of Title IX.

Title IX, passed in 1972, requires gender equity for males and females in educational programs that receive educational funding.

“There are specific guidelines colleges must follow to ensure the institution provides equitable access to sports,” Mehdizadeh said. “This is based on the actual number of male and female student-athletes, not on the number of teams.”

She said because CCC, DVC and Los Medanos College each have a football program that can roster more than 100 players, it is easy for the count of total male athletes to dwarf the total number of female athletes at each school.

“We have to identify the underserved population of students in terms of athletics,” she said. “And in the case of all three schools it’s the females.”

Taheera Brewer, Comet soccer player and English major, said she was unaware the college may add another women’s program or that a meeting was held to discuss specifics.

Brewer said she would like to see a track team at CCC, however, is discouraged because of a male dominated society.

“It’s hard for women who want to become professional athletes,” Brewer said. “I want to become a professional soccer player, but it’s harder to get noticed by scouts when you’re a woman.”

Davone Sripukdee, former volleyball player and business management major, said she saw a flyer on campus but it did not interest her enough to attend.

Sripukdee said she would not join one of the proposed teams until CCC can adequately recruit for women’s sports programs.

“(CCC) needs to focus on building the (women’s teams) it has first and then focus on adding more,” she said. Mehdizadeh said the district must now evaluate each of its colleges and provide OCR with a report stating how it is in compliance with Title IX.

“The results will be shared with the athletic director to process and determine if we need to add another sport.”