UI keeps group protecting minority athletes

BY DORA GROTE | OCTOBER 07, 2011 7:20 AM

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University of Iowa officials on Thursday decided not to do away with a group meant to protect minority athletes.

At a Presidential Committee on Athletics meeting, members discussed a report that called for eliminating a subcommittee focusing on equity.

"I personally think this would be a big mistake to bury concern about issues of equal treatment of student-athletes and Athletics Department staff within the mission to some other busy subcommittees," said N. William Hines, the head of the athletics panel.

A four-member panel reviewed the performance of the athletics committee for the 2010-11 academic year and released a report of several recommendations, including the elimination of the subcommittee. A review committee suggested the equity subcommittee be eliminated because of misperceptions about the group's workload.

The equity committee monitors the Athletics Department's equality among student-athletes, workforce diversity, and minority student-athletes' college experience. Monitoring is required by the NCAA in order to be a certified athletics department.

Some committee members were concerned about the need for the subcommittee.

"Is there enough work to justify having one committee if there is no activity?" said athletics committee member and psychology Professor Michael Lomax.  

Hines said the review committee conducted its report during a time when the equity subcommittee's head was ill, which resulted in a light workload.

"Assuring equal treatment with respect to gender, racial and ethnic status, and other immutable personal characteristics is a core value of the university and the Athletics Department," Hines said.

The subcommittee oversees athletics equality by monitoring facilities, policies, and budgets to review the UI's commitment to equality in student athletics.

"We have never taken a hard, systematic look at the of quality of collegiate experience in Iowa City and University of Iowa for our students of color, and doing just that alone takes up half a year of our committee time," Hines said.

Clinical Professor and faculty representative Ellen Herman said the work of the subcommittee could possibly be portioned off to the academic achievement and welfare panel.

"Those two committees are overwhelmed trying to get the stuff done they are supposed to do … it is just not a good idea because nothing would get done," Herman said.

Hines moved to keep the equity subcommittee based on its importance to the athletics committee.

The panel will remain part of the athletics committee for the indefinite future.

"It is symbolic in a way and vitally important to the work the committee does," Hines said.

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