IN college sports circles, the fact that roughly half of all jobs coaching women's teams are held by men is a continuing concern. Women, after all, seldom are selected to coach men. There is some good news, however, on the gender-equity front, namely increasing evidence that women are making modest but significant gains at the top echelons of college athletic programs.
Fourteen women, for example, are athletic directors charged with overseeing both the men's and women's programs at Division I (including I-AA) schools. Three are in charge of directing prominent programs: Barbara Hedges at the University of Washington; Merrily Dean Baker at Michigan State University; and Debbie Yow at the University of Maryland. (See story, left).
The irony here is that women hold only a third of all administrative positions in women's programs, according to Vivian Acosta and Linda Jean Carpenter, physical education professors at Brooklyn College who have studied female employment levels in collegiate athletics. Perhaps even more ironically, women enjoyed a greater presence in 1972, when national Title IX legislation was enacted, than they do today. Then about 90 percent of the jobs went to women. Today it's 49.4 percent.
Ms. Acosta says the perceived reasons for this swing differ by gender. Men involved with college athletics cite a lack of qualified female coaches, a failure of women to apply for jobs, a lack of qualified female administrators, and time constraints placed on women as the result of family duties. Women, on the other hand, attribute the sharp drop in the percentage of women coaches to the old boys' network, the failure of the old girls' network, a lack of other support systems, and unconscious discrimination in the hiring process.
The old girls' network, Acosta says, shrank as many women's programs were merged into larger men's programs, with male athletic directors put in charge. When these bosses had to hire coaches for women's teams, she theorizes, they tapped male associates.
Touching other bases
* Pop quiz: Hypothetically speaking, which two teams would have played in last October's World Series if win-loss records during the strike-shortened season had been the criteria? (Answer appears below.)
* In the heavily biased opinion of two writers - Dan Daly and Bob O'Donnell of the Pro Football Chronicle - football's imperviousness to bad weather makes it superior to baseball. They list baseball rainouts and rain delays as two of 100 reasons why football is better than baseball. They also say that early-season games are significant only in football, that NFL wide receivers make catches like Willie Mays's famous 1954 World Series grab several times a season, and that football can be watched without celebrating the sport the way baseball fans seem inclined to do.
* A central feature of any Super Bowl week is lavish party buffets offering mounds of catered food. Much inevitably goes uneaten. Not this time. As part of the National Football League's ambitious environmental program, a major Miami food bank is working closely with event organizers to pick up and distribute extra food to local people in need. The program also includes recycling and mass transit initiatives. One item few major sporting events consider trash anymore is the drinking cup. Reusable plastic cups with the event logo have become popular souvenirs.
* Chris Evert, now the mother of two preschool youngsters, acknowledged that her unanimous election to the International Tennis Hall of Fame this week will force her to reflect on a career filled with 157 tournament victories. ``I never was one to look back, and never one to look forward,'' she said during a televised news conference from her home in Boca Raton, Fla. ``I was always able to look at the present. I'd win Wimbledon or the US Open and go on to the next week.'' This is the first year Evert, retired since 1989, has been eligible for the Newport, R.I., hall.
* An American man will win the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne Sunday. That is not a prediction but a fact, as Americans Andre Agassi, Michael Chang, Aaron Krickstein, and defending champion Pete Sampras wrap the semifinals (Chang-Sampras today, Agassi-Krickstein Friday) in red, white, and blue bunting. This is only the second time since the sport's ``open'' era began in 1968 that an American quartet has so monopolized a Grand Slam tournament. The other occasion was the 1979 US Open, when John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Vitas Gerulaitis, and Roscoe Tanner were the semifinalists.
* Quiz answer: The New York Yankees and the Montreal Expos.