USC Athletics is nothing short of a dynasty. With a combined 123 team national championships, the Trojans are at the top of the leaderboard among other Division I schools.
USC men’s sports certainly put the school’s athletic department on the map, but it’s the women’s sports that are keeping it there. To further support the Women of Troy’s prestige, measures should be taken to introduce more female athletic directors to the University. To remedy the current climate of gender imbalance in the sports administration, USC Athletics should look to a female athletic director as a replacement for outgoing Athletic Director Pat Haden.
Of the 10 senior members of the athletic department’s administration, only three are female. In the four top positions — athletic director and the three senior associate athletic directors — only one is a woman. Donna Heinel serves as a senior associate athletic director and is also listed as the “senior woman administrator,” a position designated by the NCAA, on the USC Athletics website. Conversely, there is no male counterpart position to this listed among the senior associate athletic directors.
Since Title IX requires that half of USC’s student-athletes are female, the athletic department should staff an administration representative of that population. If the next athletic director is not a female, he should at least add more women to his staff.
The administration is not the only part of USC Athletics that is lacking in gender equity. Of the 18 head coaches at the University, only five are women.
While the men’s teams have won 97 of the school’s titles, the women’s teams have won 26 championships since 1976. Considering that women did not have the same amount of athletic scholarships as men until 1972 when Title IX, an education act banning the exclusion of people from educational activities on the basis of sex, was signed into law, that number looks all the more impressive, and it is continuing to grow.
Had it not been for the women’s beach volleyball team, USC would have ended a 15-year streak of winning at least one title every year. The team capped an undefeated 2015 season with a win in the AVCA Championships. It looks like it will again be up to the women’s team to extend the streak, as the men’s teams have failed to win a title this year, and don’t appear to be in contention. The baseball team is hovering around .500 while the men’s tennis, golf and track and field teams are all ranked in the top 10, but have a lot of improvements to be made if they’re going to be taking home a championship. Trojan faithful have little reason to worry, however, as USC’s 15-year streak is in good hands. Women’s lacrosse and water polo both currently boast undefeated records while the sand volleyball team has only dropped two matches all season. While USC’s place in Division I history is rooted in men’s sports, the continuation of that legacy currently relies on the women’s teams.
It is for that reason that USC should strongly consider hiring a female athletic director — someone committed to furthering the ideals of gender equity. One of Haden’s most underappreciated achievements was his decision to bring women’s sand volleyball and women’s lacrosse to USC and helping them grow to national contenders in under five seasons. The next athletic director, be it a male or a female, should continue what Haden started and make it a priority to grow USC women’s sports beyond what is required by Title IX. And, per the current trend toward women’s athletics at USC, it’s time to increase the role of women in the athletic department.
If anything, USC should look to other universities where athletic programs are led by female athletic directors. Only about 10 percent of the athletic directors of the entire allegiance of Division I schools are female. Not to mention, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, out of 120 schools belonging to the Football Bowl — USC included — only seven female athletic directors lead their respective schools’ sports programs.
Sports should not be solely governed by men. Penn State’s Sandy Barbour has entirely transformed the face of the Power Five conferences. Mollie Marcoux made unprecedented, executive decisions at Princeton to route resources to the university’s athletic program.
Ultimately, sports are not, by definition, a boy’s club, and its governing body should not be either. As one of the best schools in one of the best Division I conferences, USC needs to take a meaningful step toward achieving and promoting gender equity within collegiate athletics. Hiring a female athletic director would prove to students and Trojan fans that the University considers this issue a priority.
Daily Trojan Spring 2016 Editorial Board
Editor’s Note: This post was updated to clarify the wording of a previous version which said “the women’s teams have won all 26 of their championships since 1976.” The women’s teams have won 26 championships since 1976.