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Tuesday brought Purdue University an honor that placed the university among the nation's leaders gender equity in sports.
Purdue, along with Tennessee Tech, Washington State and SUNY at Buffalo, were honored as the inaugural winners of the "Opportunity Awards", handed out by the Women's Sports Foundation. Celebrating the 35th anniversary of Title IX, the Women's Sports Foundation honored four universities for their commitment to women's sports over the past decade. According to Women's Sports Foundation President Aimee Mullins, the honorees provided "equitable opportunities to their female athletes and setting a tone in their athletic departments that reflects the schools' overall ideals and aspirations."
"When selecting our four schools for the "Opportunity Awards," the Women's Sports Foundation set stringent criteria that included an "A" grade in our research report card, similar population of male and female undergraduates and athletes, having a football program, not being liable for a Title IX lawsuit in the past decade, equitable athletic budgets for the men's and women's programs and having athletic departments serving at least 100 athletes," Mullins said during the ceremony. "We applaud these schools for setting great examples. Schools can treat female athletes as well as their male counterparts and still boast a top athletic program."
All four universities achieved a grade of "A" in the recent study released by the Women's Sports Foundation based on the proportionality of female athletes to female students on a given campus. Proportionality is one of three ways universities can show compliance with Title IX. The 'A' schools had a gap of two points or less in the percentage of female athletes to the female student body. The four schools were among over 400 schools in the NCAA, NAIA, NCCAA, NJCAA, COA, and NWAAC to receive a grade of "A". A total of 1,895 institutions of higher education were graded nationwide.
Among power programs in women's basketball over the past decade, Purdue was joined at the top of the rankings by Stanford (A), Penn State (A-), Connecticut (B+), Tennessee (B+), Texas (B+), Texas Tech (B+) and Duke (B). Some of the top programs that did not fair so well in the ratings include Baylor (D-) and Louisiana State (F).
The study showed a disturbing trend among Division I universities. While most made improvement between 1995-2001 by adding participation opportunities for women, Division I universities slid after 2001. In contrast to national trends, Purdue added 16 participants in women's sports between 1995 and 2001, and 29 participants in the last four years of the study from 2001 to 2005.
Soccer is the fastest growing women's sport since 1995 in number of participants, followed by rowing, softball, swimming and lacrosse.
The full study can be found at the link below.
READ MORE: Who's Playing College Sports: Trends in Participation (PDF)