Few women athletes at two-year colleges

Despite federal rules mandating gender equality in college sports, women athletes find fewer opportunities to compete at many community colleges, reports the New York Times.  “Many community colleges offer an array of options for men but just a single team for women.”

At Los Angeles Southwest College, which used bond money to build a new field house and football stadium, women make up more than two-thirds of enrollment, but less than a quarter of athletes.

The college dropped women’s track, leaving basketball as the only women’s sport. Each year, the team starts with 12 players and ends the season with five or six, says Henry Washington, the athletic director.

Surveys show interest in women’s soccer and softball, but the college can’t afford to add another sport. In fact, Jack E. Daniels III, the college president, is considering eliminating the entire athletic program to save $300,000 a year.

By contrast, Pensacola State College in Florida spends $1 million a year on athletics, which pays for recruiting high school girls to play basketball, softball and volleyball: 56 percent of athletes are female.

Many athletes receive scholarships for tuition and books. Some are given housing and stipends for meals.

. . . Brenda Pena, the softball coach, sent her assistant to Colorado in June to recruit at a tournament that drew more than 100 teams nationwide. Although her team finished last in its conference this year, she said, Pensacola has a reputation for fielding strong teams and for helping its students transfer to four-year colleges. As a result, Pena said, she is able to avoid the obstacle of attracting players from an older, less engaged student body by instead recruiting students straight from high school.

Despite its recruiting efforts, Pensacola had to limit men’s athletic opportunities — men’s golf was cut and male team rosters are small — to meet Title IX rules that require the proportion of male and female athletes to reflect enrollment. Like most colleges these days, Pensacola is predominantly female.

When community colleges are putting students on wait lists for academic and job-training classes, does it make sense to spend money on athletic scholarships, stipends, recruiting trips and coaches?