LSU and Title IX: A Half-Century of Non-Compliance
By Chris Warner
May 10, 2021
Since our last blog post impugning its shortcomings, the LSU Board approved the hiring of Critical Race Theorist, Dr. William Tate, as its new president, the first person of color to hold the dubious distinction. The surprising nod is a watershed moment at the Ole War Skule, no matter your skin color or political preference, as LSU, moving forward, will establish a new identity and approach to leading higher education in the beleaguered Southern state ranked last in every recognizable quality of life category.
As the woke movement foments in Baton Rouge, university leaders must remember the U.S. Constitution provides for everyone--not just people of color--and certainly not just men, as the new plaintiffs painfully remind us. At LSU, the current leadership focus should be not about race--but instead gender equity, and the lawful equal protection of its athletes under Title IX and 14th Amendment guarantees, as it finds itself once again in possible violation of the federal mandate, amazingly some 50 years since the landmark gender equity legislation's inception.
Critical Race Theory, according to Brittanica, "...is an intellectual movement and legal analysis based on the premise that race is not a natural, biologically grounded feature of physically distinct subgroups of human beings but a socially constructed or culturally invented category that is used to oppress and exploit people of color. Critical race theorists hold that the law and legal institutions in the United States are inherently racist insofar as they function to create and maintain social, economic, and political inequalities between whites and nonwhites, especially African Americans."
CRT angrily argues that whites and their racist governments have created racial distinctions to subjugate and control people of color for their inherent benefit.
The constitution, in times like these, must be our guide. It is clear and absolute in the declaration of our rights. Through the attempts to obfuscate, let us remember the path we've taken, and the long distance traveled together, as a free people. Things are much better than before. There is still progress to be made, but progress has happened, nonetheless.
The 14th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution ensures equal protection under the law. Following the amendment abolishing slavery, it mandates every naturalized citizen be treated with the same rights and privileges enumerated in the sacred document prescribing our freedoms. One could call it the anti-discriminatory amendment, one in keeping with a modern, civil, rights-pluralistic society. Nevertheless, today, despite the free-thinking evolution of the American people, despite electing Barack Hussein Obama, a black man, the focus continues to be on race when it is really about equality--making the Constitution work for everyone--all genders, and certainly not just black men.
Fifty Years of Failing to Comply
In the curious case of Louisiana State University, a near half-century has passed since 1972, when the U.S. Federal Government passed Title IX, mandating equal allotment and treatment of female athletes on college campuses. It demanded that equal resources be spent on the recruitment, training and housing of men and women athletes. Title IX was important because it pioneered the modern women's college athletic program and enabled many young women an opportunity for advancement and life success that otherwise would not have been available. Moreover, Kim Mulkey would not have the equitable salary she has today, had it not been for Title IX.
However, 20 years after Title IX was passed, in 1995, LSU was sued by female student-athletes claiming gender discrimination, and general non-compliance with federal Title IX guidelines. Girls wanted to play soccer and softball and LSU did not offer those programs for girls.
From Inside the Eye of the Tiger (Related)
The following is a related excerpt from Chapter 11 of "Inside the Eye of the Tiger," the memoirs of a maverick, Coach Jerry Simmons, LSU Tennis Coach from 1981 to 1998.
"During the months leading to the trial, Joe was careful to try to comply with Title IX. LSU brought in professional consultants who were handsomely paid to create good reports on the university regarding gender equity compliance. The Feds decided they would not try the case in Baton Rouge. The Lafayette, Louisiana trial resulted in Joe Dean embarrassing himself and the State of Louisiana.
Joe made several crude, on-the-record remarks about women during the trial proceedings. One of Joe’s lewd comments was his answer to the question “Do you want to start soccer before softball?” Joe replied that he preferred soccer because he liked the way the girls looked in their “cute little soccer shorts” and also “because most of the softball players are lesbians.” The embarrassment was compounded nationally, later that fall when Sports Illustrated on October 30, 1995, ran an article entitled, “Dean’s List,” which related the following:
“Joe Dean, Louisiana State’s folksy athletic director, was called upon to testify recently at a federal trial about LSU’s possible failure to comply with Title IX gender equity provisions. Dean was asked if he ever refers to female undergrads as honey, sweetie, doll or baby. Said Dean, “Honey, maybe, but never the other three.”
In January 1996, Federal Judge Rebecca F. Doherty ruled that LSU’s athletic program was “archaic” and “ignorant” and ordered it to produce a plan to fully comply with federal law 24 years late. The case dragged on for four more years after LSU appealed, and in January 2000, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a unanimous ruling, stated LSU was guilty of being biased and possessed a “highly discriminatory athletics system,” according to the lengthy report.
Looking back at the LSU gender equity trial and its embarrassment for LSU, I am saddened. Have you ever seen a Fortune 500 CEO proclaim that he “…liked little girls with short shorts…” and was able to keep his job? Where else in the United States has that happened? Further, on which planet in what solar system does such a detestable thing normally occur? Sadly, under Joe Dean’s watch, up until the reckoning day of the gender equity trial, everyone at LSU operated in what was an archaic, ignorant parallel universe."
*The aforementioned is an excerpt from "Inside the Eye of the Tiger" by Coach Jerry Simmons and Chris Warner. All rights reserved by the authors.
History Repeating Itself
In Coach Jerry Simmons' memoir, his most important coaching lesson is understanding history. Coach Simmons says that "History repeats itself and that those of us who don't understand history--are doomed to repeat it."
An astute person can spot the historical parallels in the current state of LSU affairs, and if history can indeed be our guide, we are in for another rude awakening.
The challenge of doing the right thing is the inward struggle to do good, to be fair and to honor our country's commitment to equality and equal protection.
Hopefully this is not completely lost on the LSU leadership as it plods forward toward a solution to its apparently endemic gender equity failures.
*Chris Warner is a double graduate of LSU and holds a doctorate from the University of New Orleans. He is the author of over 20 books. A New Iberia native, he lives in Perdido Key, Florida. He is the father of two girls. One attends Alabama and one attends Auburn, both on scholarship.
Find out more about Chris, his books and his availability as a speaker, at chriswarnerauthor.com.
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