Wednesday, October 29, 2008

University Of Alaska-Anchorage (UAA) Faces Anonymous Title XI Federal Civil Rights Complaint For Alleged Discrimination Against Women Athletes

This is a relatively new story picked up by the Anchorage Daily News, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, and KTUU Channel 2 on October 29th, 2008. The federal Office of Civil Rights in investigating an anonymous complaint against the University of Alaska-Anchorage (UAA) athletic department over alleged "discrimination" against women athletes. The complainant claims that UAA treats women unfairly by the quality of coaching, access to trainers, and locker room assignments. As is their custom, the Office of Civil Rights has not identified the complainant, in order to preclude the possibility of retaliation.

ADN provides a summary of the complaints:

- Quality of coaching: No further elaboration.

- Access to the school's two trainers who provide medical services to athletes: A trainer always attends men's hockey practices and road games, but the women's teams often have no trainers for practice or road games.

- Locker room assignments: The Wells Fargo Sports Complex has five locker rooms for its 11 intercollegiate athletic teams. The men's hockey team and men's basketball team each have their own; the men's track, ski and cross country teams share one; and the six women's teams share the remaining two.

UAA athletic director Steve Cobb denies any discrimination and has already been in contact with the civil rights office. He characterizes the complaint as "mind-boggling". Here's Cobb's responses to the specific complaints

- Quality of Coaching: The allegation is absolute bunk. As a matter, more female coaches than male coaches have won awards.

- Trainer Assignments: Since there are not enough trainers on staff to cover all sports, UAA chose to direct the limited resources to the sports incurring greatest physical risk. The risk of injuries in hockey is exponentially greater, so UAA assigned their limited resources to the targets in greates potential need.

- Locker Room Assignments: A long-standing problem for which a solution is in the works. Cobb blames the situation on a department that has outgrown its home. The sports center opened in 1977, when intercollegiate athletics at UAA were in their infancy. Today the school has 11 NCAA teams with about 190 athletes.

To resolve the problem, a new $80 million sports center is in the design phase, thanks to a $15 million appropriation from the state legislature in 2008. When built, it will solve the problem of overcrowded locker rooms. But it will not be completed for at least four or five years, meaning that unless the university changes its current locker room assignments, the six women's teams will spend several more years crammed into two locker rooms.

Gender equity at schools that receive federal funding -- schools like UAA -- is required by Title IX, the 1972 law that changed women's athletics in the United States. Schools that run afoul of Title IX can lose federal funding, but usually schools found to be out of compliance with the law reach an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education that fixes the inequities.

The last time UAA was hit with a major Title IX complaint, in 1979, the university was forced to create a women's gymnastics team and increase funding for women's travel, equipment and coaching in all sports.

UAA provides the requisite emphasis on diversity and multiculturalism and has an in-house mechanism for the resolution of such grievances. The fact that Steve Cobb finds the complaint "mind-boggling" strongly implies he was blindsided. This indicates the possibility that the complainant decided to bypass the campus mechanism and go straight to the Feds. While this is legal, it is cowardly not to allow the University the first shot at resolving the problem.

I also find it odd that of all the women who have participated in UAA athletics over the past years, only one has bothered to file a civil rights complaint. This leads me to believe that the individual might be using the complaint mechanism to get back at UAA over some personal beef. It seems like UAA is doing the best it can with the available resources. Are they supposed to wave their magic wands and instantly produce a new $80 million sports center?

Fat-ass do-nothing, contribute-nothing, computer stool-swiveling Federal bureaucratic drones need to keep their noses out of sports. This is an example of the unconstitutional extension of Federal power. It is because of nannies like the Office of Civil Rights that righteous hatred of the Federal government grows on a daily basis. And the one individual who tried to shield us Alaskans from the worst excesses of Federal power and to co-opt Federal financial power for our benefit, Ted Stevens, has just been railroaded on a bogus conviction. Could it be that Ted Stevens was deliberately moved out of the way to make Alaska more vulnerable to Federal abuse and exploitation?

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