Title IX fight raises new issues

A new battle in the war for gender equity in collegiate sports arose two weeks ago when a report surfaced saying a Division I head women’s basketball coach filed a lawsuit against a college, charging the school’s athletic department with committing several Title IX infractions.

St. Peter’s College women’s basketball coach Mike Granelli, a 25-year veteran of the school’s athletic department, alleged that the athletic department has not been providing equal funding and scholarship opportunities for the men’s and women’s basketball teams. He said the women’s team received unfair treatment, according to a Feb. 15 USA Today article.

According to the Powow, the college-sponsored student newspaper at St. Peter’s, Granelli was angry because he did not receive a licensed, long-term contract last summer and instead was granted a five-year deal. Granelli also previously served as the head coach of the men’s and women’s soccer teams.

According to the Powow article, Granelli’s accusations of unfair distribution of funds might be unfounded. Though the women’s team received slightly less money for its recruitment and uniforms budget, it actually received more scholarship money than the men’s team, according to the article. In addition, according to the Powow, Granelli said he was receiving a substantially lower salary than his men’s basketball counterpart, when in fact he was actually making $300 more a year.

St. Peter’s Athletic Department declined to comment on the issue.

Granelli has been characterized as a living legend for closing in on 500 wins as a head coach, according to the Powow.

This is a really fuzzy issue, Powow editor Jose Martinez said. No one seems to know where the fault lies, but it definitely seems like both sides (Granelli and school officials) are lying about certain things.

This lawsuit comes only a couple of months after the final appeal of Marianne Stanley vs. University of Southern California was overturned by a court of appeals.

Stanley, a former Immaculata College point guard, was a landmark figure in Title IX litigation because she sued USC for what she called gender discrimination in the early 1990s. The coach said there was an obvious disparity between her pay and the pay of the men’s basketball coach.

Several courts rejected the lawsuit, deciding that more pressure comes with being the men’s basketball head coach because of recruiting and alumni relations. As a result, the men’s coach is entitled to higher pay, wrote Judge Arthur Alarcon in the decision.

Mary Jo Warner, GW’s senior associate athletic director, said such coach-led lawsuits were extremely uncommon.

I’ve never heard of such a thing, Warner said. Usually it’s the student athletes that file the lawsuits.

But in 1994 Marty Hawkins, head women’s basketball coach at Loyola University (Chicago) filed a lawsuit against the university, alleging he was terminated as head coach because he complained the school was violating Title IX and gender-equity provisions.

Complaints included a lack of parity in the number of assistant coaches for men’s and women’s basketball and that his entire basketball budget was surpassed by just the recruitment portion of the men’s basketball budget, according to the University of Iowa’s gender equity database.

When the USA Today article was printed, the Women’s Sports Foundation, located in East Meadows N.Y., added it to their files. The non-profit foundation advocates female participation in sports and often helps plaintiffs in gender-equity litigation cases, said Tia Raj, an official at the foundation.

GW has had few problems with Title IX, having never suffered a Title IX-related lawsuit, according to the University of Iowa database and University officials.

The settlement meetings for the St. Peter’s lawsuit will be held in Newark, N.J., March 7.

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