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June 28, 2022

Gavilan Makes Changes to Avoid Title IX Sanctions

By Christopher Quirk
Gilroy
– Gavilan Community College will not face sanctions despite a
glaring inequity between the men’s and women’s athletic facilities
because the college is working with sufficient diligence to correct
the disparity, an oversight agency reported.
Gilroy – Gavilan Community College will not face sanctions despite a glaring inequity between the men’s and women’s athletic facilities because the college is working with sufficient diligence to correct the disparity, an oversight agency reported.

The report is the culmination of a two-year investigation into a complaint that the women’s softball team at Gavilan College had inadequate facilities compared to the men’s baseball team.

The office for civil rights, a division of the California Community College’s chancellor’s office, did not punish the college after acknowledging the complaint’s validity because it determined the college’s plan to improve the facilities would fully address the inequities.

“They know we’re remedying that situation,” said Steve Kinsella, the college president. “I’m pleased to see they’re acknowledging that.”

The inequity in team facilities was the unexpected result of a joint-use agreement between the college and city, said Ron Hannon, director of athletics for the college. This 20-year deal dating back to 1984 – and renewed for another 20 years in 2004 – had the college and the city sharing the softball and soccer facilities. They were located on the college grounds, maintained by the city and utilized by both the college’s women’s teams and recreational leagues organized by the city.

While the agreement presented a cost savings, it resulted in substandard facilities for the college’s women’s teams, Hannon said. The softball and soccer fields overlapped and the city maintained the fields to a quality associated with recreation leagues, while college fields typically need to be groomed to a much higher level. By contrast, the men’s baseball facilities were not shared and did not have any of these problems.

Based on the differences between the softball and baseball facilities, the office for civil rights found that the college was in violation of Title IX – a federal statute mandating, among other things, that educational institutions provide equally for men’s and women’s athletic programs.

The college has instituted policies since then to correct the deficiencies, starting with the hiring of Hannon, Kinsella said. The college also developed a task force and a strategic plan in 2003, which outlined inequities in the athletics programs.

The steps taken during the past two years have been significant and have convinced second-year softball coach Nikki Dequin-Thompson that her team is a valued part of the institution.

“I haven’t noticed any preferential treatment toward baseball,” she said. “As far as facilities go, we have a great facility.”

Christopher Quirk covers education for the Dispatch. Contact him at 847-7240 or [email protected]

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