An examination of athletic participation data suggests many big-time football schools are sporting large rowing rosters, which can help them stay in compliance with the federal gender equity law known as Title IX.
Michigan reported 132 women’s rowers in 2018. The figures were 110 at Ohio State, 101 at Texas and 93 at Oklahoma. Iowa had a sizable squad at 91. But no school could rival Wisconsin and its eye-popping roster of 176 — almost triple the size of the average NCAA squad.
Women’s athletic advocates say the schools’ out-sized rowing teams bear scrutiny under Title IX.
In most cases, the rosters are inflated by large numbers of “novice” rowers — women recruited from the general student body to give the sport a try. As long as those rookies are still on the roster by the time of the team’s first competition, the schools can officially count them as female athletes.
This isn’t offered as criticism of Title IX. After all, there’s nothing wrong with women getting scholarships to play sports.
What it does go to show is how lazy schools are about meeting Title IX requirements and how that laziness actually winds up hurting the very people it was designed to help.
Advocates say the teams are so large they leave many of the women with little real opportunity to compete, denying women a true athletic opportunity…
She said if the schools are truly committed to women’s athletic participation, they would add a women’s team in a new sport rather than padding their rowing rosters.
‘Ya think? But that would only serve to get away from the real purpose of having a women’s rowing team, which is…
Most of the largest rowing rosters can be found at football schools, a trend that’s likely explained by the added difficulty football schools face in achieving gender balance. Football often involves even larger rosters, averaging 121 players at the game’s highest level. And there is no corresponding women’s sport to balance against it.
“You can’t ever match the football numbers, but rowing is the sport that can bring in the most participants on the women’s side,” said a former athletic director who worked at schools with rowing, speaking on the condition he not be named.
Alabama has 120 women rowers on scholarship. Nick Saban appreciates those ladies doing their best to support Alabama football.