We Need More Women Athletic Directors

Richard Hunkler, PhD.
Water Polo Planet

Let me reiterate the title of this article a little louder, “WE NEED MORE, NO WE NEED MANY MORE, WOMEN ATHLETIC DIRECTORS!” The men have so convoluted and twisted college and university athletics that I doubt that even NASA rocket scientists will be able to right the ship again. Collegiate men athletics are very similar to “Humpty Dumpty”. You remember how the nursery rhyme goes, don’t you? Well, here is my version of it:

Humpty Dumpty sat on the women so they couldn’t play ball.
Humpty Dumpty short sightedness caused men’s sports to fall.
All the AD’s and coaches who didn’t want to share were men.
They blamed Title IX  for not putting Humpty together again.

First of all the men have to understand that “all the King’s horses and all the King’s men” will never be able to put the broken Humpty Dumpty men’s athletic programs back together again. As I see it, the men had two chances to get collegiate athletics on the right path and because of gender prejudice, class stereotyping, and misguided greed for the high profile sports they wasted both their opportunities..

The first occurred when the women first began to play club sports in college. Instead of ridiculing and making fun of the collegiate women who wanted to play sports in college, the men AD’s and the men coaches should have supported and helped these pioneer women. If this would have happened then  there would never have been a reason to enact Title IX. As you well know separate and unequal schools didn’t help with civil rights, so why did many men think it would work with men’s and women’s sports?

The men made a major mistake thinking that most women had neither an inclination or desire to play varsity sports in college. This is tantamount to thinking a poor person who has no car would rather ride the bus to work than drive. It wasn’t that women didn’t want to play varsity sports in college but rather there just were no credible opportunities for them to do so. Also many men AD’s thwarted their ever attempt to organize a sport. These AD”s  gave them either no or very poor equipment, poor practice facilities, and poor times to use the practice facilities. And all the while the AD’s were doing this they were saying “real” women really didn’t want to play “real” sports.

How stupid can you be because this is similar to trying to put out a brush fire by pouring gasoline on it. I saw a bumper sticker the other day that read, “You can’t fix stupid”. This certainly applies to many of these AD’s because when they got a second chance to help women sports through the enactment of Title IX they made some of the same mistakes over again. Title IX was second chance to do the right thing and they not only punted this chance on the first down but they also tried to make people believe through misdirection that things in the men’s and women’s sports in happy valley were perfectly all right.

The AD’s wanted people to believe that the men’s and women’s sports were separate but equal and they did this by giving the women’s sports a little larger budgets , some new equipment, better practice times, and by spreading the word the women were happy with what they were being given.. It was similar to a parent raising their daughter’s allowance from 25 cents to a dollar a week  and all the while the son was still getting his $5.00 a week allowance.

However, those things were not the worst thing the AD’s did. Instead of reducing the budgets of some of the high profile men’s sports to save the low profile men’s sports and to balance the budgets of the women’s sports with the budgets of comparable men’s sports, guess what they did? You got it, they dropped the low profile men’s sports and they had the unmitigated gall to say Title IX made them do it. You have a large family and the amount of money the bread winner is making has been reduced. What do you do? Do you throw three or four of the smaller children  out of the house so the larger children have more to eat or do you keep everyone and eat smaller portions? If you think of  collegiate sports as one more learning experience in a whole bag of learning experiences then you do the latter but if you think of sports as cash cow then you do the former.

Do you really think women AD’s will manage sports differently. You dern right I do! I truly believe that they will place the student athlete first before everything else. We already have an example of that actually happening when women’s collegiate sports were governed  by the AIAW, the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, because this is exactly what happened. Almost every sport under the umbrella of the AIAW placed the “student” in “student athlete” first. The first priority was making certain all athletes got a good education and their second priority was providing the student athlete a good learning and life experience through athletics.

In the Ivy League newsletter there is a several parts article entitled “Respect & Resources” and in this article a concise explanation of  the purpose of the AIAW is given: “The women who founded the AIAW had done so with a philosophy that emphasized balancing academics with athletics, encouraging widespread participation, and rejecting scholarships.” Later in the life and death struggle of the AIAW with the NCAA, the AIAW dropped the part about rejecting scholarships. Most of the women athletes and coaches of women sports that I have talked to have told me that the intent of Title IX is not to eliminate men’s sports but rather its intent is to provide an equal opportunity for women to participate in college athletics. This is similar to the purpose of a 12 gauge shotgun which is to kill ducks not men who play low profile sports.

It is my belief that men AD’s not women are the cause for the demise of low profile men’s sports in this country. Furthermore, I believe that many men AD’s only tolerated low profile men’s sports and when Title IX was enacted they simply used it as an excuse to eliminate the low profile men’s sports so they could spend more money and time on the high profile sports. – Their cash cows! When the AD’s did this I think they new what they were doing and they just didn’t care that they were condemning several US Men’s Olympic Teams to extinction.

(This article is dedicated to Paul Lueken the AD at Slippery Rock University because in my opinion he exemplifies the type of a Men’s AD this article is talking about and to Pat Zimmerman because she exemplies everythig that is good about an AD regardless of gender.)

Email Coach Hunkler at [email protected]