(6-5-98) -- Boston College has unveiled a five-year strategic plan to ensure equal opportunity for its male and female student-athletes, an initiative which includes additional scholarships and resources for women's sports programs.
Athletic Director Gene DeFilippo outlined the plan on June 5, noting that, when fully implemented, it will add 47 scholarships to various women's sports programs. Over the next two to three years, he added, the University also will add women's rowing as a varsity sport. By the 2002-03 academic year, the total number of scholarships awarded, and number of opportunities for participation, will be "virtually equal" among men and women, he said.
"We feel this plan shows Boston College is committed to providing a great experience for all our student-athletes, and providing equitable opportunities for women in particular to participate in intercollegiate athletics," DeFilippo said. "While these concerns are common to many institutions, Boston College hopes to take the lead nationally in leveling the playing field."
As part of the plan, three men's varsity sports - lacrosse, water polo and wrestling - will be designated club sports. However, this transition will be gradual, DeFilippo said, and no student-athletes already recruited to participate in those programs at the varsity level will be affected.
"We thought this was the right thing to do," he said. "In most of these situations, an institution will make the change from varsity to club sport status immediately. But we felt it important to honor the commitment we made to the students recruited for the teams, and this four-year transition period will enable us to do that."
DeFilippo pointed out that none of those three programs offer scholarships, nor are they affiliated with the Big East Conference, which includes some BC sports programs like football and basketball.
The University will create 38 of the proposed additional women's athletic scholarships, DeFilippo said, and the remaining nine will be transferred from men's programs, although not from football, hockey or basketball.
By the time the initiative is completed, Boston College will field 31 varsity sports. Men's programs will include baseball, basketball, cross country, fencing, football, golf, ice hockey, sailing, skiing, soccer, swimming, tennis, indoor track and outdoor track. Women's programs will consist of basketball, cross country, fencing, field hockey, golf, ice hockey, lacrosse, rowing, skiing, sailing, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, volleyball, indoor track and outdoor track.
DeFilippo said the plan took approximately eight months to devise and involved consultations with administrators, faculty and students, as well as Athletic Association personnel.
"This will involve a significant contribution from the University," he said. "Once the transition is finished, Boston College will still offer one of the largest programs in intercollegiate athletics. Our goal has not changed: We want to keep the student-athlete at the heart of our program. We're committed to providing fair and equitable opportunities for young men and women to pursue an excellent education while participating in intercollegiate sports."
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