The USF women’s cross-country team has created a “B” squad — essentially a junior varsity team — as an offshoot to the cross-country program for the 2003 season to give more young women an opportunity to continue in competitive running while also helping the university comply with Title IX.
USF coach Greg Thiel said there is a certain niche amongst people who simply enjoy running which prompted him to start the program. As a direct effect, the athletic department and the university benefit by boosting its Title IX numbers.
“We looked at that and decided we could do two things at once,” Thiel said. “It’s a win-win situation. It helps the athletic department, obviously, to increase women’s numbers, but more importantly (helps women) who may not have had the chance (to continue competitive running) to still be involved in something pretty special.”
“Title IX actually is geared at a balanced opportunity for the genders, and historically women have been the under-represented gender,” said Barbara Sparks-McGlinchy, USF’s senior associate director of athletics.
Universities are required to meet one of three prongs under the Title IX guidelines, according to federal law.
The expansion of the women’s cross-country program not only gives females more opportunities to compete, but it also helps the university comply with the first of three prongs of Title IX.
The first prong states that the percentage of athletes, male and female, is equivalent or in rough proportion to the universities full-time undergraduate enrollment.
USF currently meets the second prong, which states that universities show a history and continuing practice of program expansion regarding the under-represented gender.
In the past decade, USF has created both the women’s sailing team and the women’s soccer team, which helps the university comply with the second prong.
The third prong basically states that the university has added all the women’s sports it possibly can, which is based on interest, ability and amount.
USF was not in danger of falling under Title IX compliance requirements before the expansion of the women’s cross-country program, nor will USF receive any special perks by the NCAA for complying with an additional prong. The only thing the program is geared toward is improving USF athletics, especially for women, Sparks-McGlinchy said.
“Obviously we always want to improve our sports, by whatever means we can,” Sparks-McGlinchy said.
Thiel said he would like to have a team of 20 young women, who will compete at various races around the state against collegiate competition. Also, some women may have the opportunity to make it to the regular cross-country squad if they have the ability.
“We never know what we’re going to find,” Thiel said. “We may have a young girl that comes in that didn’t have a good high school coach, comes in here and runs with the (junior varsity) team for a year and then excels.”
For more information about joining the USF women’s cross country “B” squad, contact USF assistant coach Rita Arndt at 974-4097, or visit the track and field office in the physical education building north of the Sun Dome.