Southeast approves moves to assist Title IX compliance

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Southeast Missouri State acted quickly on recommendations made in a review of the athletics program, as the Board of Regents on Friday approved a funding plan proposed by university president Dr. Kenneth Dobbins to add three full-time positions, an unspecified number of part-time assistant coaches and two graduate assistants.

Most of the positions were added as an effort to comply with Title IX, the federal law requiring equal opportunity in men's and women's athletics.

Another position, associate athletic director for external affairs, primarily will assist in fundraising for the department in addition to handling areas such as marketing and media relations.

The proposal includes $400,000 of spending initiatives for the 2008-09 academic year, with 15 percent of that coming from a general fee increase passed Friday, and $270,000 for 2009-10. The proposal was approved to be included in the budget as a starting point for spending, though Dobbins didn't expect the full amount to be spent in the first year due to the time necessary to draft job descriptions and fill the positions.

The proposal addressed three areas, including several enhancements for women's sports. It included $35,000 for operations, $30,000 for recruiting, $17,000 for financial aid in the soccer program, and $5,000 for a media guide for women's athletics.

It also addresses Title IX issues by adding part-time assistant coaches in any of four women's sports — soccer, softball, gymnastics or volleyball. The budgeted amounts were listed at $80,000 for 2008-09 and $50,000 the following year.

The proposal also adds an assistant athletic trainer and a graduate assistant athletic trainer, and it eliminates the teaching duties for Cindy Gannon, who currently is the associate athletic director and senior women's administrator.

The final version of the review, done by Carr Sports Associates for the university as part of a strategic planning initiative, was presented to university officials this week. Bill Carr made appearances Friday in front of Southeast coaches and then university boosters before talking with the Strategic Planning Committee and finally the Board of Regents.

The review included 39 pages on Title IX issues with areas of detail regarding facilities and equipment. It cited drastic differences in recruiting budgets and travel arrangements between men's and women's sports as well as the lack of equipment or athletic trainer support for women's sports. The women's tennis program was the only one of the university's 15 sports — nine for women, six for men — that did not have a media guide in 2007-08.

"Frankly, there is a fairness element here," said James Limbaugh, Board of Regents member and chair of the Athletics Task Force. "Women's sports have become very popular, and they need to be funded at the extent that is practical so they can be successful on a consistent basis, not any different than the men.

"These are some of the things not that Title IX has recommended, but that have been mandated. There's a difference between a mandate and a recommendation."

The proposal included money for facility modifications related to women's athletics that Dobbins said already were planned: tennis court repairs, the gymnastics team's move to a different area of Parker Gymnasium and making Houck Stadium safer for the soccer team.

The largest single amount was the $85,000 budgeted for the associate AD position. The proposal reads, "The position will be responsible for significantly increasing external fund-raising for athletics and should be self-sufficient within three years."

Carr said during his presentations that the review was a snapshot of the program, but should not be interpreted as a strategic plan for the department. The development of a formal plan would be a process for the athletic department to continue, including strategic plans for each sport, he said.

He also said the university should not take verbatim the recommendations in the review nor should it necessarily tinker with formulas that may maximize skill sets and are successful.

"If it's effective and efficient for Southeast Missouri, that's fine," Carr said.

The planning process would have an influence on each sport's funding under a zero-based budgeting initiative, in which coaches would make a case to the athletic administration for spending plans. Athletic director Don Kaverman said he thought coaches would welcome that change.

"The way we've done it in the past is estimate our revenue based on historical perspective, and we allocate it the best we can," Kaverman said. "We've not been able to do [zero-based budgeting] because the revenue hasn't been sufficient to support that kind of budgeting."

The review claims the zero-based budgeting system increases accountability among coaches.

The wording of the proposal introduced by Dobbins in Friday's meeting said "zero-based budgeting and strategic planning for each sport and the athletics department as a whole should be accomplished in fall 2008."

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