An additional women’s sports team could be added to the Citrus College line up to ensure that the school remains in compliance with Title IX.
The three women’s sports under consideration are varsity women’s tennis, women’s track beyond distance and women’s sand volleyball.
Students interested in discussing the possibility of adding these sports to increase equity and representation of women’s sports and athletes can attend the interest meeting at the field house in room 224 on Dec. 1 at 2:30 p.m.
Title IX, a comprehensive federal law signed in 1972, includes an amendment that requires any federally funded educational program across campus, including athletics, to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender.
When an institution is out of compliance, it faces the possibility of losing all of its federal funding.
Thirteen components regarding equal access and treatment in athletic programs determined by Title IX are used to determine an institutions standing.
They fall into three categories: accommodation of interest and abilities, athletic financial assistance and other athletic benefits and opportunities.
Jody Wise, Citrus College dean of kinesiology and athletics, said institutions must meet the demands of one of three tests to determine if they athletically meet sports equity standards.
Generally the process begins with a survey asking incoming students what sports teams they might be interested in joining.
The decision whether or not to add another sports team ultimately comes down to the needs of the underrepresented gender, that is, women athletes.
Wise, Mary Brawner and Cliff Wurst, assistant athletic directors, gather data indicating student interest in specific sports over a full academic year.
Some of the sports on the survey are offered at Citrus already and others like Badminton, Crew/Rowing, Fencing, Field Hockey, Gymnastics and Lacrosse that are not.
After these results are gathered the dean has an idea of what sports students would like to participate in.
“You really can’t offer a sport based off 20 people showing interest,” Wise said. “You use this as one step and then find out your normal recruiting area. If there’s no one in the area to play you don’t have to offer it.”
Every year, Wise, Brawner and Wurst consider every sport and its playing schedule, find the average one-way distance of the surrounding area that each sport is played in and then divide that number by the total number of sports to discover the competition area.
Citrus’ recruitment area spreads out over a 67-mile radius.
Even if a high number of students indicate interest in a specific sport, depending on the amount of competition from other colleges in the recruitment radius, an institution may not be required to offer that sport.
Wise receives a College Interscholastic Federation list from high schools in Citrus’ surrounding districts and continuous districts.
The list contains the amount of high school students participating in sports not currently offered to determine if the sport holds recruitment opportunities.
Wise must consider if there are people to recruit, is there a competing school in the area and is there interest in the sport.
“For example, If 20 girls show up to play sand volleyball, then we are in trouble only if we don’t offer it,” Wise said.
According to Wise, sand volleyball was added by the state two years ago and Citrus’ athletic conference has added the sport this year.
“There are a lot of schools in our conference and throughout the state that are offering [sand volleyball] right now,” Brawner said.
The sport isn’t currently being offered because Citrus does not have the facilities.
“Adding additional athletic facilities can be very costly depending on the sport and the size of the required facility,” said Claudette Dain, vice president of finances and administrative services.
Wise said the preliminary estimate, from an architect, of the cost of five sand volleyball courts could fall somewhere between $400,000 and $500,000.
She said the higher price might include some things that Citrus wouldn’t need.
Students are invited to attend and show support of women’s sports they would like to see added.
Offering new sports and tracking interest is proof that the athletic department is providing these opportunities to students.
“If no one comes to those meetings then we don’t have to add the sport,” Wise said. “That’s what has happened to us every year and that’s why I say we’re teetering.”
In this event, Citrus does not need to offer any additional sports to remain in compliance because there has been no interest indicated.
The federal law requires schools to accommodate the interests and needs of female students regardless whether or not the institution already has facilities in place. The Citrus athletics program is in compliance with federal law and will only run the risk of violation if it refuses to respond to the needs of students.