Johnson City, Tenn. (June 26, 2002) --
The following is a letter from ETSU Athletic Director Todd Stansbury written in response to the recent allegations by the National Women's Law Center that East Tennessee State University had a discrepancy in its funding of athletic scholarships for women student-athletes.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to respond to last week's possibly politically motivated allegations by the National Women's Law Center targeting East Tennessee State University and twenty-nine other randomly selected institutions for non-compliance of Title IX in intercollegiate athletics.
As you know the EADA Report does not differentiate between in-state and out-of-state tuition. Therefore, using the scholarship dollar figure alone from one year as the basis for a charge of sexual discrimination is very misleading. Additionally, the scholarship dollar amount listed in the EADA Report only refers to actual dollars spent and not dollars budgeted; it does not account for unused dollars due to a coach's decision not to award all of his or her available scholarship dollars.
East Tennessee State University's commitment to provide opportunities for women in intercollegiate athletics is apparent when one examines the program as a whole and the history of women's program expansion and enhancement over the past six years.
In that time, ETSU has added women's soccer and softball. Our operating budget for women's programs has increased by $452,299, or 47%, despite frozen and decreasing budgets for higher education in the state of Tennessee.
Since the National Women's Law Center chose scholarship dollars and the Participation/Scholarship Differential to make its inflammatory charge against ETSU, I have listed the scholarship information for our women's athletic programs from academic years 1997-98 through 2001-02.
Year Scholarship ($) Participation Scholarship (%) Differential
97-98 $424,044 30% 28.1% -1.9
98-99 $469,968 31% 30.4% -0.6
99-00 $465,807 33.4% 29.4% -4.0
00-01 $555,278 40.1% 31.9% -8.1
01-02 $631,308 35.6% 37.8% +2.2
From 1997 to present, the scholarship budget for women's athletics has increased by $245,491, or 57.89%, with participation rates for women and percentage of scholarship dollars for women increasing at equal rates.
In choosing to use the 2000-2001 EADA Report to make its charge, the National Women's Law Center failed to point out that the Participation/Scholarship Differential of 8.1% was an anomaly for one year in which softball was added. Despite an increase in scholarship dollars for women of $89,471, there was a surge in participation by women, thus creating the 8.1% differential. This past year, 35.6% of our student-athletes were women. They received 37.8% of our scholarship dollars, thus creating a positive differential of 2.2%.
East Tennessee State University has also made a significant investment over the past two years in providing its women's athletic programs with enhanced dressing room and playing and practice facilities. These facility enhancements have included new or renovated dressing rooms for women's basketball, softball, soccer, and volleyball and enhanced playing and practice facilities for women's basketball, soccer, and volleyball. Current projects include office renovations for all programs and a golf practice facility that will benefit both our men's and women's programs. The total cost for facility enhancements for our women's programs over the past two years will be between $1 million and $1.5 million.
ETSU is fulfilling a gender equity plan that has been certified by the NCAA and is committed to increasing participation opportunities for women. We will continue to enhance all of our programs to ensure a positive student-athlete experience and a chance to compete at the highest levels of the Southern Conference and the nation. We are committed to fairness and the spirit of Title IX, demonstrating that despite limited resources and much-publicized funding problems for higher education in the state of Tennessee, ETSU has and will continue to expand and enhance our women's athletic program without decreasing opportunities for men or cutting sport programs.
M. Todd Stansbury
Director of Athletics