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CONTACT: STEVE PARROTT
5 Old Capitol
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-0552; fax (319) 335-0558
email: steven-parrott@uiowa.edu

Release: Sept. 8, 2000

EDITORS AND NEWS DIRECTORS: Here are the phone numbers where you can reach the people mentioned in this news release: President Mary Sue Coleman, (319) 335-3549; Bob Bowlsby, (319) 335-9435; Christine Grant and Paula Jantz (319) 335-9247. Also, Coleman and Bowlsby will hold a press conference today at 2 p.m. in the Big Ten/Iowa Room of Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

UI to consolidate women's and men's athletic programs

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa women's and men's intercollegiate athletic programs will be consolidated into one program supervised by Bob Bowlsby, the current men's athletic director, UI President Mary Sue Coleman announced today. To help ensure progress towards gender equity in UI sports, the athletic director will make annual progress reports on that subject to the president and the UI Board in Control of Athletics.

Coleman made her announcement in a letter addressed to members of the University of Iowa community that was posted on the university's web site. In that letter, she also announced that UI General Counsel Mark Schantz will assume administrative responsibility for oversight of athletics.

In addition, to provide advocacy for both men's and women's sports, Coleman announced that the UI will add a second faculty representative to the Big Ten Conference. The UI's current Big Ten representative, Bonnie Slatton, associate professor of sport, health, leisure and physical studies, will continue in that position but will be joined by a faculty member to be appointed later.

The changes in intercollegiate athletics follow closely the recommendations of a nine-member task force appointed to review the UI's sports programs following the announcement that Dr. Christine Grant, long-time UI women's athletic director, would retire from her post. Grant, who headed the UI women's program throughout the 27 years of its existence, retired Aug. 31.

"Today, I am pleased to announce a reorganization of our men's and women's intercollegiate athletics programs that will, I am confident, strengthen both programs and continue our progress in achieving gender equity in intercollegiate athletics in the 21st century," Coleman said.

"This has not been an easy decision," she added. "I have consulted widely and carefully considered the alternatives. We are proud of our history of offering competitive athletic opportunities to women students, and particularly of the progress we have made in achieving gender equity since the establishment of our separate women's intercollegiate athletic program in 1973. In the last quarter of the 20th century, our dual administrative system for men's and women's athletics served us well.

"Today, however, the aspiration of our men's and women's programs are converging around two primary common goals: assisting all student-athletes in achieving a sound academic experience leading to a baccalaureate degree; and reaching the top 20 in the nation in all sports, a goal that requires energetic promotion of intercollegiate athletics to ensure a stable source of revenue to sustain and improve our competitive level in all sports.

"On balance, I have concluded that our existing dual administrative structure no longer fits the circumstances in which we find ourselves," Coleman said. "I am confident that we will preserve and enhance the best of our traditions: our commitment to gender equity, academic integrity, and national competitiveness."

Under the new administrative structure, Bowlsby will work closely with Paula Jantz, interim director of women's athletics, to begin integrating the two units. At the same time, a search committee will be formed to identify candidates for a senior women's administrator position. That individual will serve as chief operating officer within athletics.

President Coleman noted that shewill have "periodic direct involvement" with athletics to "maintain the principle of presidential control over intercollegiate athletics." As athletic director, Bowlsby will be responsible for constructing the departmental budget and maintaining fiscal discipline. General Counsel Schantz will provide administrative consultation and oversight.

The task force that reviewed the sports programs was headed by Professor Slatton and Ann Rhodes, former vice president for University Relations and now a member of the General Counsel's office. Task force members consulted with groups both on and off campus before making the four recommendations that President Coleman accepted.

Members of the task force were unanimous on three recommendations: a consolidation of financial management, requiring an annual report on gender equity and other matters, and appointing two faculty representatives to the Big Ten Conference. A majority of the task force recommended placing both women's and men's sports under one athletic director.

The task force noted that its recommendations were based on eight principles. Several of those principles were aimed at gender equity:

o The university should maintain a leadership position in gender equity.

o The administrative structure of the sports programs "must provide representative and advocacy for women student athletes and flexibility to meet the need of women and men in non revenue sports."

o There should be no reduction in men's or women's sports teams.

o Savings from organizational changes and increased revenue from NCAA and Big 10 media contracts should be used wherever possible to make progress toward gender equity.

"Let me thank the entire task force for the service they have rendered the University in making these recommendations," Coleman said in her letter. "And most of all, I want to thank Christine Grant for all she has done for women's athletics here at Iowa and across the country. In the era ahead, I am committed to building on Christine's achievements and accelerating our momentum toward the achievement of full gender equity in Iowa intercollegiate athletics."

Grant indicated that she also supports the decision. "President Coleman has made a difficult decision and it is one that I accept. It is important that our university and community understand why I am at peace with this decision. It is because President Coleman herself is truly committed to the continuation of a strong women's program, both academically and athletically. I am totally convinced of this commitment. She is also committed to ensuring that Iowa maintains its leadership role of having highly visible female administrators and coaches to serve as role models for the next generation. We could not have a more supportive president at this critical juncture in our history." She added, "Additionally, I have confidence in Bob (Bowlsby) and his ability to supply the necessary resources for our coaches to be even more successful than they are today. He knows that he is inheriting a great staff of coaches and administrators, and I know that he will do everything in his power to ensure their future success."

The complete text of President Coleman's letter on the UI's athletic programs and the report of the task force can be viewed at this web address: http://www.uiowa.edu/president/athletics-reorganization.