Stanford Takes Lead

Will Boost Support to Women's Athletes

In a move that may put the onus on other schools to follow suit, Stanford University last week announced an ambitious plan that would increase participation by female athletes and pump a million extra dollars a year into its women's sports teams.

Stanford Athletic Director Ted Leland said in a press release that his department would add three varsity women's sports, provide new facilities and support staff for women's teams, and raise the number of scholarships for female athletes.

A four-year plan, The Women's Sports Enhancement Program, will begin during the next academic year.

In the statement, Leland said the plan, despite a projected cost of $1 million annually, had to be implemented because "it is the right thing to do."

"This plan clearly makes Stanford a national leader," Leland said. "Just as important is the fact that we can make these programmatic changes without affecting our men's program, which is one of the best in the nation."


Introduction of the plan was prompted by a report from Stanford's Title IX Review Committee. Stanford's Associate Athletic Director Cheryl Levick said the committee had worked to eliminate all discrepancies between men's and women's teams in 13 categories, including scheduling of games and practices, medical and training facilities and recruitment.

An internal Department of Athletics report obtained by The Crimson in February showed similar discrepancies in Harvard's treatment of female athletes. That report also demonstrated that Harvard spends more than twice as much money on men's teams as it does on women's teams.

Athletics and University officials, including President Neil L. Rudenstine, defended these discrepancies by saying that support for women's teams reflects lower participation among female students. Rudenstine also emphasized that Harvard does more to support its women's teams than "practically any other university."

But the Stanford plan clearly makes it the leader--and Harvard a follower--in the scramble to comply with Title IX, a 1972 law mandating "equal opportunity" for men and women in intercollegiate sports.

The Stanford program specifically tries to increase participation by women through the addition of teams and the increase of funding for recruiting. Harvard says its lower number of women participants means it does not need to spend as much money on their teams.

In another telling difference, Levick said last week that their ultimate goal is a 50/50 split in resources between men and women athletes. Harvard officials have rejected that as a goal.

According to its plan, Stanford will add women's synchronized swimming as a varsity sport next year, women's lacrosse in 1994-5, and women's water polo in 1995-6. The additions will give Stanford 15 men's varsity and 17 women's varsity teams, the Stanford Daily reported. According to the Harvard report, the University has 13 men's varsity sports and 10 women's varsity sports.

And under the plan, women athletes will comprise 45 percent of Stanford athletes by 1996-7, up from 40 percent now, the Daily reported. Thirty-five percent of Harvard athletes are currently women.

At Stanford, there will be additional staff support in areas from academic advising to sports information, and an additional 29 scholarships for women athletes. The university's softball team will get a new field, and women coaches and athletes will receive additional locker rooms and office space, according to the plan.

"We looked at individual sports, and we said we will do what it takes to make the sport successful," Levick said. "Here, that means, what it takes to get the sport into the top-10 [nationally]."

Stanford's athletic department will attempt to pay for the changes with money from extra fund raising and revenue sports like football.

Harvard's athletic officials have told coaches that they do not have the money for such broad new initiatives, and Director of Athletics William J. Cleary '56 has suggested that coaches may need to appeal directly to the Faculty for more funds.

And while Harvard cites the need to remain competitive to account for large spending on high profile teams like football and men's hockey, Stanford officials insist they can implement the plan and still be competitive.

The move may make the university women's program, already among the nation's strongest, even better. Stanford women athletes have already won 15 NCAA team champions--more than any other university