Story courtesy of Shane O'Donnell, Tiffin University Sports Information Director
TIFFIN, Ohio – In the fall of 2009, Tiffin University added two sport teams; women’s lacrosse to start in the spring of 2010 and wrestling to become a varsity team in the fall of 2010. In their short history, both teams have had impressive accomplishments. For lacrosse, they have had the individual NCAA Division II goal scorer in each of the last two seasons. During the 2011-12 season, wrestling qualified two athletes for nationals for the first time.
One of the most impressive things is that Tiffin was able to add wrestling in the first place. For the longest time, there were very few opportunities for women to compete in collegiate athletics. On June 23, 1972, Title IX was passed which mandated that any college programs receiving federal money could not discriminate against women. Within a few years, athletics began to be affected by the decision.
In 1988, the Civil Rights Restoration Act was passed. Now any school receiving federal money had to be compliant with Title IX in all programs. Even if a certain program did not receive any of the federal money, they still had to be compliant.
The passage of the Act turned college athletics upside down. Over the past 24 years, there has been a net gain of 2703 women’s teams to a net gain of just 510 for the men. What it means is that for every gain of one men’s team, there is a gain of nearly 5.5 women’s teams.
With those kinds of numbers, one has to wonder how Tiffin was able to add men’s wrestling. We asked this question among others to Tiffin University Athletic Director Lonny Allen.
Q: What were the factors behind the decision to add wrestling and was there any pressure to add or not add a men’s sport?
Allen: To answer the latter part, there was no pressure brought on us whatsoever. We are a tuition driven institution. Where most schools right now are looking to cut the budget, we have been doing very well with our enrollment. We are expecting those numbers to rise even more over the immediate future.
When we make decisions, we look at what is the most cost effective way to do things. Once we made the decision to add lacrosse, we saw an opportunity to add another sport, wrestling. Looking at the numbers, we foresaw 50 additional athletes each season. It made sense to add those teams.
Q: So why wrestling in particular?
Allen: In this area of the country, high school wrestling is very huge. There are a lot of people that participate in wrestling. In addition, there is a fairly large pool of people who are very interested in the sport. At the NCAA Division II level in particular, there are 56 teams that have wrestling, the lowest total of the three divisions. We are tapping into a big pool of athletes.
Q: Would you say Tiffin is in the forefront of Title IX?
Allen: I wouldn’t say that we are in the forefront, per se. Plain and simple, we want to be in compliance with Title IX. We believe that everyone should have the same opportunities to compete, whether it is a female or a male. By the same token, those opportunities should extend to the coaching profession.
I’m a huge believer that the best person should get the job. We’ve been fortunate that in our case, the females were the best candidates. Across the board, we have a very high percentage of females coaching female sports here at TU. I would stack our percentage against any other school in the country.
Q: Is it safe to say that Title IX has had a major impact on college sports?
Allen: Absolutely, without a doubt. One of the members of our staff told me about a three sport all-state athlete at their high school in the late 70’s. There was not an opportunity for scholarships for her in college at the time. Title IX has changed all of that and created countless opportunities for high school girls and women in general. What was not conceivable at one point is now a reality. I have two daughters of my own that are hoping to play college athletics. They are able to have that opportunity to play and more because of it.