Regarding the New York Times article accusing USF of creative accounting to meet Title IX standards, Executive Associate Director of Athletics Bill McGillis said to Greg Auman:
"If your premise is that we are including kids on the cross-country roster who are not participating in cross-country in order to comply with the proportionality piece of Title IX, that would be false."
In response, we simply ask this: Prove it. Show us why we the numbers, as lay people reading them, aren't as they appear on the surface. Because prima facie, it looks like that's exactly what we're doing. And not just in women's cross country.
The Times says there were 71 women on the women’s cross-country roster in 2009, but only 28 competed. Our research finds that, for example, one of the athletes listed as a cross-country runners is a long jumper, which is an event where speed and explosion are needed, not the ability to run over three miles as quickly as possible. Why would this athlete be allowed to be listed in both areas?
Just going through the 2009-2010 roster on GoUSFBulls.com, there are a lot of names on the roster who should not be there. Courtney Anderson is a high jumper who didn't record a time in 2009. MaShonda Rayner competed in both the indoor and outdoor track seasons, but did not run a cross country meet even though she was on the roster. Stephanie Duffy competed in the pole vault, Natasha Pelton and Alex Rosenberg in the heptathlon, Shambrey Oliver and Brittany Willis in sprint events. Every single one of them competed on the track team, but never ran a meet for the cross country team.
This doesn't even include the random names on the roster like Janice Zamora, Ashley Addison, and Kristen Clark, who we don't know anything about other than a couple of answered questions and their PR from high school.
More after the jump:
McGillis also says “not only are we in substantial conformity with … the letter of the legislation, we are committed to the spirit of it.” Putting athletes on a roster where they have very little to zero chance of success… how is that the spirit of Title IX? (Also, what exactly is "substantial conformity"? Is that anything like "partial non-conformity"?)
Take a look at the results from USF's first official cross-country meet of the 2010 season, at the Mountain Dew Invitiational in Gainesville. The women run a 5K race, which is a little over three miles. There were 22 women running the race for USF (even though only five of them count towards the final scoring). On the one hand, you have a runner who finished third overall with a time of 17:37. Then on the other hand, six runners needed 24 minutes or more. It was even worse at the FSU Invitational a few weeks later, in which USF allowed a competitor to run the race in 33 minutes and 26 seconds. That's a pace of 10 minutes, 45 seconds per mile.
We're not trying to belittle the athletes. They're doing what they're being asked to do to the best of their ability. But why are they being asked to run a race that everyone (including, we assume, the runners themselves) knows they won't be competitive in? What benefit does this provide for anyone involved? It's kind of cruel to the runners to use them when there are competitors who could run two races in the amount of time they need to finish one. They're basically Title IX pawns, and that's really not fair.
And it might not just be in women's cross country. There are 34 squad members listed on the USF Sailing team according to GoUSFBulls.com. There were 30 listed for 2009-10. According to GoUSFBulls.com, there were seven sailors in 2007-08, and eight in 2008-09. Admittedly, our knowledge of sailing is very limited, but it appears that an average of about six sailors compete on a given weekend at a regatta. Our team is ranked #13 in America, so congratulations to Coach Allison Jolly and her team. But again, this has nothing to do with team success. It has to do with whether or not we're following the letter, and the spirit, of the law.
According to the Equity in Athletics data that was cited by the New York Times, USF has 348 female participants but only 221 female athletes, which is a difference of 127, a very large gap. If it is true that there was no ill intent, and a large number of female track athletes (but not male ones) were accidentally overcounted in a way that just happens to make the ratio of female to male sports participants match the ratio of women to men at USF, then correcting the rosters should be a trivial matter.
We hope USF Athletics will immediately update all sports rosters, and the numbers it reports to the Department of Education and the NCAA, to include only those who are engaged in meaningful competition, or reasonably working towards it (such as redshirting or rehabbing an injury). If it is true that USF is in Title IX conformity without those bloated rosters, that will put an end to this controversy.
We will continue to ask people that know more about this than us, and we'll continue to try and find as much information as possible. We've asked for several experts to come help us, and we'll be posting their thoughts throughout the week as we receive them. If anyone out there has some relevant information, or perhaps is one of the athletes described, please reach out to us so we can understand. But the allegation of keeping an athlete on the roster in exchange for priority registration (something any USF alum knows the incredible value of) and free running shoes isn't just "disappointing," it's perpetuating a fraud. Whether it's illegal is for people with law degrees to decide, and that's not us.
But either way, it seems highly unethical at a public institution. But things aren't always as they seem. So help us to understand, USF Athletics. Because we want to believe you. But right now, the explanation given doesn't jibe with the facts as presented.