Community, diversity, equality, excellence, integrity, justice and stewardship. These core values guide all aspects of the College.
Forty years after the passage of Title IX, Guilford athletics strives especially to achieve equality in sports. Of the 18 teams that comprise the athletics department there is an equal gender split: nine male teams and nine female teams.
However, research of roster distribution shows that approximately 250 student athletes are men compared to 129 women, a disproportionate number.
Meanwhile, a spring 2013 research project surveyed 85 Guilford student athletes (43 female and 42 male) about perceptions of gender equality. The results found that a majority believed gender inequality exists at Guilford.
Besides the number gaps, there may be other factors pointing to inequality as well.
“I think an aspect not addressed are the spots for assistants and coaches,” Professor of Sports Studies Kathy Tritschler said. “More men are in coaching positions, and that reflects the gender norms in society.”
She also noted, “There has not been a female sport added for many years.”
There is, however, a lot that goes into adding new sports. It would take resources and coordination with the athletic conference.
“The conference has a rule that requires at least four (ODAC school) members to have a sport prior to creating a championship in the ODAC,” Commissioner of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference Brad Bankston said in an email.
In the meantime, a consistent theme throughout the department is community and the commitment to gender equality remains strong, resulting in incremental improvement.
“Even though we may continue to struggle for equality, we can be fair,” said assistant football coach and offensive coordinator Chris Barnette. “No female sport has the roster spots that football does, but as we strive for fairness, football shares resources within the community.”
The athletics department continues to makes strides toward improvement and excellence.
“I think it’s gotten better,” said head women’s lacrosse coach Sarah Lamphier. “I definitely feel that there has been a great deal of acknowledgement when it comes to our standout female athletes.”
Meanwhile, senior and ex-women’s basketball player Brittany Atwater commented, “I think there are still some issues between female and male athletes in general. For the most part, I think Guilford does a good job of trying to make everything equal.”
Guilford athletics also attempts to be judicial in their application of Title IX. “We focus on equity as much as equality,” said Tritschler.
The Student Athlete Advisory Committee intertwines athletes from different sports in the spirit of stewardship.
“A brother/sister program is being developed to address not just sport divides, but also the gender divide,” head women’s volleyball coach and SAAC administrator Emily Gann said.
“Positive support and school spirit is not about athletics alone, it’s about our community. From Homecoming to Serendipity, it’s all part of being at the ‘G’.”
But focus at the athletic department is not on the progress made, but on the progress yet to come.
And while the progress continues, a spirit of cooperation remains high.
“Athletics are not sport versus sport, nor men versus women,” said Barnette. “It is a relay race. One sport hands off the baton to another throughout the year.”