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.
How can parents of women athletes be assured that their daughters sports teams will be well supported in this department?
of the decision was to begin a nationwide search for a senior womens
administrator and to really look at how we should go forward in merging
the programswe 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 Universitys 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 administrators position?
has put together a transition team to help advise how to go forward with
the merger. It will take a while to accomplish. Weve 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 Grants 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 wont
be a very visible process.
For most students its 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 wont change. Were 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.
Lets talk about the place of athletics on campus. In one sense its a very big deal, but its just one part of the Universitys 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 importantits
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. Theres
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 its obviously very visible because of the external audiences
that it draws, particularly the high-profile sports such as football and
basketball. And its fun for all of us to rally around our teams.
Thats an important part of the collegiate experience. I try to attend
as many games as I can. I think its important to support our athletes
in that way.
I think weve 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. Thats 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 wont compromise their principles.