Tuesday, October 5, 1999
The Governor is concerned
about Hawaii high school
compliance with Title IX
Title IX guidelines
Hawaii high school sports seasons
By Cindy Luis
It sounds simple enough. Just swap the girls' high school basketball and softball seasons in Hawaii, putting both sports in alignment with the prep schedules on the mainland and at the collegiate level.
That was the plan, effective immediately, as outlined in a letter last month from Gov. Ben Cayetano to the Department of Education's two top officials. The directive was sent to Dr. Paul LeMahieu, superintendent of education, and Board of Education chair Dr. Mitsugi Nakashima on the subject of gender equity in athletics and compliance with federal law. It also was distributed to the state's high school athletic directors.
The proposed flip-flop of seasons was one of seven issues addressed by Cayetano over his concern that the DOE was not in compliance with Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972. Title IX deals with sex discrimination in any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance, which includes the majority of the nation's schools, from elementary through college.
In theory, having the girls' basketball season run concurrently with that of the boys' season, and girls' softball concurrent with boys' baseball, would give female athletes in Hawaii more opportunities for playing at the college level.
In practice, the switch could adversely impact nearly all 15 sports currently sponsored by the Hawaii High School Athletic Association, which has 74 member schools statewide. The move of just two schedules could force up to three other sports changing their seasons, if the same standard of collegiate opportunities is applied.
Now, according to Cayetano's chief of staff, the schedule change may be on hold until next July 1. That's the deadline that the governor has requested of the DOE and BOE for the other six gender equity issues.
An immediate swap with softball meant girls' basketball practice would have started this week; or that practice would begin on Nov. 15, if girls' basketball were to run concurrently with boys' basketball. That was not enough preparation time for coaches, or for athletes who may currently be involved in other sports.
"We want to be reasonable about the schedule change,'' Sam Callejo, Cayetano's chief of staff, said yesterday. "We understand that some of the seasons are the way they are because it offers the most accessibility to facilities. It becomes a practical matter.
"To make the change immediately may be a problem because of (lack of) preparation time for the players and rescheduling facilities. We want to comply with the law. We will also consider reasons that may override making the adjustment.''
Callejo said Dwight Toyama, head of the state's largest high school league, has been asked to prepare a response to Cayetano's letter. Toyama, the executive secretary of the Oahu Interscholastic Association, said yesterday he has submitted his response to LeMahieu but declined to comment on its contents.
However, at the annual meeting of the Hawaii Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association last June on Kauai, Toyama voiced his concerns over the proposed switch of girls' basketball and softball seasons.
"My argument is that if we make the moves because of college opportunities, then we have to do the same for boys' volleyball and boys' and girls' soccer,'' he said last June. "Boys' volleyball will go to spring and soccer will go to fall, which will create a real problem with football.
"Maybe it can be done on the mainland, where schools have both soccer and football fields, but that's not the case in Hawaii.''
The facilities issue is a major concern should softball be moved to spring. Few high schools have fields for both baseball (90-foot base paths) and softball (60-foot base paths); most softball teams use city and county park fields that are in heavy use during the spring with Little League and other youth baseball and softball leagues.
The HHSAA calendar is balanced, with five sports being played in each of the three seasons (see accompanying list). Should all the sports that are considered "out of season'' be realigned, six sports will be played in the fall, two in winter and seven in spring.
"We are not opposed to moving the girls' basketball season to winter,'' said Keith Amemiya, the Executive Director of the HHSAA. "However, if we move girls' basketball and softball to be fair, then in fairness we have to move a number of others.
"The HHSAA is fully committed to gender equity and has taken many proactive measures to ensure that our female high school student-athletes are provided equal - and in some cases even more - athletic opportunities as our male student athletes.''
Amemiya sites girls' wrestling as an example of Hawaii being in the forefront of gender equity. Hawaii is one of just three states that offers a girls-only state wrestling championship tournament.
According to Amemiya, female athletes comprise 49 percent of all high school athletes in Hawaii. Last year, the HHSAA sponsored state tournaments for 13 girls' and 13 boys' sports; with the addition of football this year, the boys' have a one-sport advantage.
Toyama said there is a survey being sent out to the OIA schools, asking if there would be interest in having girls' flag football season in spring. The OIA is also pursing adding water polo for both genders as well as sanctioning outrigger canoe paddling, two sports already played by the Interscholastic League of Honolulu.
The survey is partially in response to the governor's letter. Cayetano wants, by next July, to:
Have a BOE/DOE policy on gender equity in athletics;The governor this year vetoed State House Bill 532, legislation passed unanimously by both the House and Senate. According to his letter, he said he received assurances that the DOE was in basic compliance with Title IX. He said he has since been informed otherwise.
Increase the numbers of athletic opportunities for girls so that their representation is proportionate to the overall school population. (The courts have ruled within 5 percent. Toyama said he has been told by the National High School Federation that Hawaii is within 2 percent);
Reapportion the distribution of money so that spending is equitable for male and female athletes;
Ensure state and county facilities be equal and fair;
Have each public high school complete an eight-item mandatory compliance review, as required by Title IX annually;
Have the BOE review the HHSAA to ensure compliance of Title IX .
Changing the girls' basketball season to winter - as it is in the 49 other states - has been the main thrust of the Gender Equity Sports Club. Its president, Jill Nun-okawa, is a former University of Hawaii basketball player (1982-85), a civil rights counselor at UH.
Times have changed somewhat since Nunokawa played. UH coach Vince Goo said that female basketball players now have opportunities to compete in mainland all-star tournaments as well as have their own summer leagues and clinics, something that may not have been true even 10 years ago.
Nunokawa was not available for comment last night.
"I think there are pros and cons to switching the seasons,'' said Goo, coach of the only women's collegiate basketball program in the state. "The way it is, it gives my staff more opportunities to see the girls play. We are very busy during our own season and, if I don't have the time to see the high school girls in Hawaii play, there is no way any other coach from the mainland is going to come here to watch them.''
The early signing date for girls' basketball begins Nov. 10 and continues for the ensuing five weeks. At that point, said Goo, no one has played their senior season and colleges are signing the top players based on what they did during their junior year and in summer leagues.
Female basketball players shouldn't be harmed by having their season in the spring, if the logic behind the early signing date holds true. However, there is a second signing period, beginning in April - in the middle of Hawaii's season - where the mainland season is done and seniors are then offered scholarships based on their final season.
"As I said, there are pros and cons,'' said Goo. "I think the girls get better exposure in the spring. Mainland coaches do come to watch the state tournament (in May), where they couldn't if the state tournament was in February).
"My feeling is the WNBA would not survive if it switched to playing at the same time as the NBA.''
Amemiya said that Hawaii's climate allowed for sports to be played "out of season'' because teams weren't forced to play indoor sports only in winter due to the weather.
"Just look at Alaska,'' he said. "They are finishing their cross country and football seasons this month because of the weather. They make use of summer for sports because of their climate.
"Hawaii can balance its high school sports schedule because we can take advantage of our climate.''
Title IX is the portion of the Education Amendments of 1972 that prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive any federal funds.
Title IX guidelines
In brief, Title IX states: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.''
Title IX applies to the majority of schools in the United States, from elementary schools through colleges. If educational institutions are found to violate Title IX, their federal funding can be withdrawn.
A panel of federal judges in 1993, outlined what it took to be in compliance with Title IX at the collegiate level. It is a three-pronged test that is currently being applied at the high school level:
Females are given opportunities to participate in athletics proportionate to the overall enrollment of the student body.
Schools (or state athletic associations) show that the interest of females in athletics is being met by providing opportunities for them to compete, even if it is already being met by the enrollment proportion.
Schools (or state athletic associations) show that there is a real effort being made to reach compliance.
HAWAII HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS SEASONS
CURRENTFall (Sept-Nov.) Winter (Dec.-Feb) Spring (March-May) Sport Boys Girls Sport Boys Girls Sport Boys Girls Air Riflery x x Basketball x Basketball x Bowling x x Softball x Baseball x Cross Country x x Soccer x x Track & Field x x Volleyball x x Swimming x x Golf x x Football x Wrestling x x Tennis x x
POSSIBLE CHANGESFall (Sept.-Nov.) Winter (Dec.-Feb.) Spring (March-May) Sport Boys Girls Sport Boys Girls Sport Boys Girls Air Riflery x x Basketball x x Swimming x x Bowling x x Wrestling x x Baseball x Cross Country x x Track & Field x x Volleyball x Golf x x Football x Tennis x x Soccer x x Softball x Swimming x x Volleyball x