Wayne State looking at possibility of adding more women’s sports

Austin Svehla, Reporter

The Wayne State Athletic Department has seen an increased interest surrounding the possibility of adding multiple women’s sports in coordination with Title IX policies. Of the sports WSC has considered, the likeliest possibilities are women’s golf and sand volleyball.

The reason for potential athletic additions is to improve WSC’s current compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX has a three-prong system, which ensures that the institution provides athletic participation opportunities that are substantially proportionate to the student enrollment, demonstrates a continual expansion of athletic opportunities for the underrepresented sex and installs full and effective accommodation of the interest and ability of underrepresented sex.

“We’ve been implementing a Title IX equity plan with the Office of Civil Rights,” Mike Powicki, Wayne State College Director of Athletics said. “There are a lot of things that are a part of that plan but one of the main components of that plan is potentially expanding opportunities for the underrepresented sex, which is the females among the Wayne State College population.”

According to Powicki the goal over time is to add a variety of women’s programs but there is a process which must take place before these additions can occur. Approval must be given by the Nebraska State College System Board Office any time there is a plan in place to add programs to men’s or women’s sports.

“What we do in our planning process for looking at which sports we may be able to add, is look at current sports that are sponsored at the Northern Sun and NCAA level, so we can have some viable competition,” Powicki said. “Then we pick the sports based off which one we think makes sense or what things we can be supportive of and successful at.”

Golf was suspended years ago due to a lack of funding and support. However, Powicki sees it as a viable possibility because most of the schools in the NSIC fund golf as a college sport, allowing for viable competition. Golf is also a very popular sport in Nebraska girl’s high school sports, which is criteria looked at when deciding on which sports to add.

“We have an 18-hole course that’s very nice, very adequate,” Powicki said. “It’s funny actually. Our golf course, even though we haven’t had women’s golf the last few years, because we’re the southernmost school, they actually still put on Northern Sun Conference Tournaments here because it gives teams a place to come and play, so we’re definitely good there.”

Sand volleyball is the other program at the top of the list for WSC, which would be represented by the same student athletes who represent the volleyball team in the fall. Sand volleyball would not have a huge cost and would provide viable competition across the greater Midwest region, as no schools in the NSIC offer the sport.

“We do have outdoor courts for training here on campus,” Powicki said. “There’s a restaurant in town that has some as well, so there are definitely some viable practice opportunities, but it’s also very important that we can provide some indoor training opportunities as well.”

There is not an absolute timetable for when the program additions could get done, but Powicki believes it would take at least a year or two for any program to be officially implanted. Not only must each program be granted approval, but time must also be allotted to find the necessary coaching support along with time to recruit student athletes who would like to compete in those sports. It also takes approximately a year’s time to develop a schedule that coordinates with the potential competition.

There are many factors that determine whether program additions will be successful, and one of those is the backing of faculty, students and fans that come out to support Wayne State Athletics.

“I think they [faculty, students] understand the merits of trying to expand opportunities for females to compete in intercollegiate sports,” Powicki said. “I think almost everybody is very supportive of that and gets the importance that we are providing equitable opportunities for our female students.”

Currently, WSC has six women’s sports and five men’s sports. Students’ interests and abilities in intramurals were evaluated through surveys offered by the college, which help determine the potential success of additional programs.

“Every time you add a program, there comes additional oversight for student athletes, coaches, budget oversight and managing facilities,” Powicki said. “From an administration workload, any time you add programs, you add staff needs and support, but when we have our plans together, we talk that through with our entire team, and I think everybody is on the same page.”