Rowan University’s administration must more tightly control its athletic department, remedy some gender equity issues, and address insufficient facilities, a report released Wednesday found.
The report, commissioned by the university and prepared by a consultant with expertise in collegiate athletics, follows a controversy at Rowan over a football coach’s attempt to stop female athletes from running in sports bras in an area where his players were practicing and a subsequent investigation by the Chronicle of Higher Education that described a department with deep problems and gender inequities. Athletes told the Chronicle that after the sports bra incident gained national attention, the women who spoke out were blamed by athletic administrators.
Cheryl L. Levick, author of the 30-page report, said that Rowan’s athletic director ought to report to president Ali A. Houshmand, not to a vice president. The present setup, she wrote, “could cause a lack of direct communication and insufficient oversight for the department of athletics.” She also recommended more day-to-day oversight of sports programs and the appointment of a “Senior Woman Administrator," as recommended by the NCAA.
Rowan ought to remedy the imbalance between men’s and women’s coaching positions, the report recommended. For some sports, men’s coaches are full-time and women’s coaches are not. And in some cases — soccer, for instance — men’s teams have more coaches than women’s teams. Further, some women’s team coaches have 10-month contracts, whereas coaches for men’s teams have 12-month contracts and higher salaries.
And in some cases, there are “real or perceived inequities between ‘like sports,’” Levick wrote — for instance, members of the men’s cross country team receive practice shoes every year; women on the cross country and track and field teams do not always receive practice shoes. Levick recommended that the department better monitor coaches and conduct an audit of the allocation of shoes and gear to prevent such incidents from occurring.
In general, the university ought to review and adjust for equity the number of coaches and salaries for men’s and women’s teams.
In some cases, Levick found, Rowan’s women’s teams lack adequate locker space to accommodate every player.
Levick found an overall lack of education and enforcement of departmental policies and procedures for the coaches and staff; she recommended annual education sessions. She also called for annual training for student athletes and coaches, including a section on sexual misconduct.
But perhaps the most pressing concern is the state of Rowan’s athletic facilities, Levick wrote. “With 18 varsity sports and almost 500 student athletes, the current facilities do not adequately meet the needs of the student athletes at Rowan University."
Rowan’s former athletic director, Dan Gilmore, retired after the findings of a Rowan human resources investigation, which the school declined to make public. Joe Cardona, a university spokesperson, has said that Gilmore was not asked to retire, but said he could not comment on whether Gilmore would have been allowed to stay.
Gilmore had worked at Rowan for 43 years.
John Giannini, who had been founding director of Rowan’s Center for Sports Communication and Social Impact, was named interim director in June.
Houshmand had said in a February email to the campus that the university was probing allegations of harassment, bullying, and incivility within the department.
In June, he wrote that the six-month probe started as a complaint by students about gender equity and “grew into a much broader conversation about the entire program.”
In a letter accompanying Levick’s report, Houshmand said the university already has begun to remedy some areas of concern identified in the report, including a review of coaching staff and salary structures, a look at locker room space needs, and an examination of how apparel and equipment are distributed.