Athletic Officials to Form Women's Support Group

An independent organization of coaches, athletes and administrators will establish a foundation in November to raise funds and to provide moral support for women's athletics, an official in the Department of Athletics said yesterday.

Patricia H. Miller, assistant director of athletics, said the newly-created Harvard-Radcliffe Foundation for Women's Athletics is necessary because women's teams do not have the "traditional, dependable support" that most men's teams have.

An anonymous gift earmarked specially for women's athletics provided the funds for the foundation, Denise D. Williamson '82, a member of the organizing committee, said yesterday.

Joseph D. Bertagna '73, director of sports information, said yesterday there is a real need for such a foundation because teams incur many expenses--for things such as training trips, pre-season practice sessions, and national meets--not covered by their allocated budgets.

These extra expenses have traditionally been covered by "Friends of Harvard sports," groups, loose organizations of parents and alumni who donate money to specific sports teams.

"The established men's teams have years of people to call on, many of whom are able to give money," Bertagna said, adding, "With the new women's teams, the list of graduates is small and they are often not in a position to really contribute."

Miller concurred with Bertagna and added that the friends' group for men's crew was founded back in the late 1800s. Women's sports were only incorporated into the Harvard athletic budget in 1974, so friends' groups can be no older than seven years.

The foundation is intended to correct this imbalance, Miller said, adding, "It is a matter of growth, not prejudice."

The first mailing, expected to go out in the first week of November, should reach approximately 5000 people. Recipients will include members of the Varsity Club, members of existing friend's groups, and Radcliffe alumni who participated in sports.

Same Rule

Victoria L. Hays, the women's swim coach, has been working on the project since its inception, and said yesterday, "We need something to move women's athletics at the same caliber as the men's without all the years of buildup."

Hays said she hopes to see the foundation do more than simply solicit funds. The first project will be a membership drive and fundraising effort, but she said she would like to see the foundation sponsor field days in the spring and fall. She added this would provide more visibility for women's sports and allow coaches and team members to work directly with foundation members.

Miller said that as soon as the letter is mailed, an executive board composed of alumni, representatives of the Varsity Club, women's team coaches, and team members will be selected. She added, "The by-laws and the constitution are already written, and guidelines for allocations have been set. I can't make any predictions; we just hope to build a broad base of people interested in supporting women's athletics."