The University Record, March 4, 2002

Effect of Title IX ruling a mystery for now

By Theresa Maddix

U-M student-athlete Katrina Lehman spikes the ball into Northwestern University’s court at a Nov. 11 game. (Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services)
Beginning in fall 2002, girls’ and boys’ high school basketball in Michigan will be played during the same season. Volleyball will move to the fall.

The U.S. District Court for the Western Division of Michigan ruled in December that it is unlawful under Title IX to hold different seasons for sports that are the same. At issue, says the court’s ruling, is what “happens to be the most advantageous playing season for the high school sports.”

The Record recently caught up with associate director of athletics, Megan McCallister, and women’s volleyball coach, Mark Rosen, to ask what the effects of this decision will mean for athletics at the University. Women’s basketball coach Sue Guevara was unavailable for comment due to her team’s imminent participation in the Big Ten Tournament.

McCallister says, “Will it affect us? No.” U-M recruiters will “just be looking at kids at different times.”

Rosen thinks it might even be to his team’s advantage because, “now the kids in the state will be able to play in USA Volleyball,” one of the most prestigious clubs.

Before the coming fall season, Michigan girls could not participate easily in the top clubs because most of these clubs are active in the winter, the same season Michigan and a limited number of other states have their high school season. Now, Michigan student athletes also can opt to have two seasons—high school and club—to fine tune their skills.

Rosen says, “Players will be able to be developed to their fullest potential.”

Recruitment isn’t an issue for Rosen, only that “we haven’t had as many top level players (in the state) as we could have.”

Women’s basketball coach Sue Guevara testified in the lawsuit on behalf of the Michigan High School Athletic Association. She told the court that girls in Michigan would not receive the same recruiting advantage if they played in the winter.

Michigan was one of only a few states where high school girls played basketball in the fall. Guevara said that she has seen coaches from around the country making use of the different season to recruit in Michigan. Prior to October each year, women’s basketball coaches could attend high school games without it counting against their limited contact time imposed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

But, what the real effects will be, McCallister says, “At this point, nobody knows.”

Title IX, passed in 1972 by the U.S. Congress, banned sexual discrimination in education programs that receive federal funding. It also required that schools provide equal opportunities in athletics for men and women.

Women’s sports teams at U-M are basketball, cross country, field hockey, gymnastics, rowing, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track, volleyball and water polo.