Rowan releases report on Athletics Department review

Rowan releases report on Athletics Department review

Share

A message from President Ali Houshmand:

As you may know, last November some members of our community, including student-athletes, raised serious concerns specifically about policies related to sports teams’ practice apparel and generally regarding gender equity in our Athletics program.

We immediately responded to those concerns, conducting an internal examination of Title IX compliance, which in turn led to further assessment of associated personnel matters within Athletics. During the course of these inquiries, it became clear that the University would benefit from the expertise of an independent professional to conduct a comprehensive program review of the Athletics Department. Our goals in retaining the services of the consulting firm of Cheryl Levick, a highly regarded former NCAA Division I athletic director, included an operational review to help identify program gaps, recommend corrective measures and assist in the implementation of a plan to help us achieve excellence that stands as a model for others to follow.

Ms. Levick submitted her program review report, and I am pleased to share it with you. I encourage you to read it in its entirety and draw your own conclusions and also to share any comments or questions with me.

The consultant’s research included campus visits; in-person and phone interviews with student-athletes, Athletics Department leadership and coaches, and senior administrators; review of policy manuals, budget and department reports; facility inspections; and more. As we continue to respond to the report, we wrote an update that describes the progress we’ve made in addressing concerns since last November, as well as additional plans developed with the benefit of the consultant’s study. Below is a summary of the report’s key recommendations and the path forward. 

Title IX concerns and recommendations
The report lists 28 Title IX-related recommendations, some of which identify imbalances that already are being addressed. In all instances, our aim is to ensure that our policies, procedures and practices reflect best practices. For example, Human Resources has begun a thorough review of all coaching staff, including salary structures, to enable us to make needed adjustments to ensure equity. We also are exploring solutions to address office and locker room space needs, and we are examining how apparel and equipment are distributed and how to make sure team revenue is spent equitably. (See program review report.)

Best practices and practical recommendations
The consultant shared some observations during the fact-finding phase, which occurred in parallel with our separate internal review. This enabled us to move quickly on the consultant’s feedback and what we determined to be more immediate needs because of health and safety concerns. For example, while larger questions remain about adapting and expanding to create facilities appropriate for a school of our size and level of play, we have developed and are implementing effective temporary solutions. These include improvements to the weight room in Esby Gymnasium and at the West Campus that will be finished in time to serve teams training by the end of summer. 

Also, the Athletic Department leadership transition to Dr. John Giannini as interim athletic director provides the opportunity to reconsider key aspects of the organization and the significance of our thriving Division III program. As a result, we are updating policies and practices and examining the organizational structure. The progress update report describes some of the recommended changes that already are underway.

Long-term commitment
Our commitment to transparency has driven every aspect of discovery and deliberation within Rowan Athletics since we responded to the original concerns brought to light last fall. As a public institution dedicated to undergraduate education, we must carefully balance the investments we make within the University and demonstrate thoughtful stewardship of our resources. Throughout this process, hard questions have driven our discussion and directed us to respond with meaningful action. We will continue to ask ourselves such questions so we can demonstrate our values as an institution and community and persist in addressing equity issues.

As we progress, we will continue to provide student-athletes the opportunity for dialogue with Athletics and institutional leadership and offer forums for the larger University community to share perspectives. In response to each matter—including Title IX compliance, facilities, staffing, policies, communication and finance—we must balance the urgency of some of the recommendations with relevant best practices and Rowan’s institutional priorities. We appreciate your patience as we continue thoughtful review and effective implementation.

I look forward to celebrating the best of what collegiate athletics can be at Rowan University by using this report as a blueprint for more improvement, and I pledge that we will foster a University community that is better because of our commitment to a strong, transparent organization and fair policies and standards. 

Please feel free to share questions or concerns at officeofthepresident@rowan.edu.