Parent Times: The University of Iowa
parents association
campus links
UI homepage

WINTER 2000-01
Volume 44, Number 2


New Division Promises More Opportunities for Performers

Under One Umbrella: Women's, Men's Athletics Now One Organization

Engineering Students Turn Good Ideas Into New Businesses

Tuition, Fee Payments Create Students' World

Reluctantly, UISG Backs Increase

Residence Hall Rooms: Do It Yourself on the Web

Why Live on Campus? Consider the Hidden Costs

Protect the Brand: Keep Iowa Strong

Mom and Dad of the Year

Parent Times Briefs

Parents Association Board of Directors

Important Numbers

Campus Events Calendar

University Calendar

Considering that The University of Iowa has been in the forefront of the drive toward gender equity in athletics for 27 years under Dr. Grant’s leadership, it must have been a difficult decision to combine the two departments. How did you make the decision?

As soon as Christine told me she would like to retire, at the beginning of the summer, we asked her to stay until the end of the summer to give us some time to look at what our options were. She graciously did that. I formed an ad-hoc task force of people who were knowledgeable about the issues to give us some guidance. It was chaired by Bonnie Slatton, who has been our faculty representative for many years to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and Ann Rhodes, to whom the position had reported.
They spent the summer interviewing the coaches, student athletes, and others, people from the I-Club, the Iowa Plus board, and department faculty and staff. The task force really tried to get a sense of where people thought we should go in the future. They also reviewed the history of our progress toward gender equity in sports. They put forth what I consider to be a really good report with four recommendations. After I examined the report and contemplated what was required, I decided to accept the recommendations and merge the departments under a single athletics director, Bob Bowlsby.

How can parents of women athletes be assured that their daughters’ sports teams will be well supported in this department?

Part of the decision was to begin a nationwide search for a senior women’s administrator and to really look at how we should go forward in merging the programs–we certainly want to remain absolutely committed to the principle of gender equity. The task force also recommended that we have two faculty reps to the NCAA instead of one, and always to assure that one would be a woman.

The other thing I did over the summer was to move the reporting relationship of the athletics program to Mark Schantz, the general counsel for the University. He has superb background to take this on. He was a basketball player himself and a Rhodes scholar. He was a member and chair of the University’s Board in Control of Athletics, and also cochaired the self-study committee when we did the NCAA accreditation. He is very knowledgeable about athletics and totally committed to the principle of gender equity. I thought that was a good move as well.

So what will be happening now? Is there interest in the new administrator’s position?

Mark has put together a transition team to help advise how to go forward with the merger. It will take a while to accomplish. We’ve also put together a search committee for the senior administrator. We believe there are some excellent candidates out there who would be interested in the job. We think this will be seen as a very good position. Iowa has a good reputation for adherence to the right sort of values in athletics and running very good programs. Iowa is a leader in providing opportunity for women athletes under Christine Grant’s guidance. Those principles will be maintained.

At least once a year the Board in Control of Athletics will review where we are in terms of our continued progress toward gender equity.

How long do you think this transition will take? Will there be changes the athletes will notice as a result of the merger of the departments?

For the athletes the process will be transparent. We might change aspects of marketing, back-room operations, to whom the coaches report, but none of that would affect students. One thing I found very encouraging, as I spoke to women athletes, is that they felt very well supported. So I think it won’t be a very visible process.

For most students it’s like what goes on in other administrative structures. What they need is access to the services. For us, the welfare of student athletes is of primary importance, and that won’t change. We’re going to make sure the students get what they need. I have every confidence in Bob Bowlsby and his commitment to running a very good athletic program. Paula Jantz has done a wonderful job in the interim position, stepping into the fray. So I feel we made the right decision. We did it with a lot of thought and care, and a lot of input.

Let’s talk about the place of athletics on campus. In one sense it’s a very big deal, but it’s just one part of the University’s overall goals.

I think for students who participate in athletics, being on a team and learning the kind of cooperation you need to be a good team member is important–it’s part of the experience of the University. The kind of values you learn there are as important, from my viewpoint, as what you might learn if you were doing an internship in a business or doing volunteer work. There’s a lot of value associated with team membership. Athletics, from a budget standpoint, is rather small considered as part of the whole University budget. But it’s obviously very visible because of the external audiences that it draws, particularly the high-profile sports such as football and basketball. And it’s fun for all of us to rally around our teams. That’s an important part of the collegiate experience. I try to attend as many games as I can. I think it’s important to support our athletes in that way.

I think we’ve done a good job in Iowa of keeping sports in perspective, running really good programs but not letting athletics run the whole rest of the University. That’s what we need to keep in mind. We want good programs, we want always to consider the welfare of our athletes: are they progressing through their academic programs, are we making sure that they are being nurtured and protected in an important way as they participate in sports? We have the right kind of people. We have good coaches. We have athletic administrators who have the right kind of ideals. They won’t compromise their principles.

[back to top]


[back to top]