– Despite setting a record for most wins in a season at the helm
of the Gavilan College softball program, fourth-year coach Tim
Kenworthy will not return as the Lady Rams’ head coach next
After being reviewed for tenure, Kenworthy, a physical education
instructor at the school, was not one of the 13 full-time faculty
members approved for tenure by the Gavilan board of trustees on
Gilroy – Despite setting a record for most wins in a season at the helm of the Gavilan College softball program, fourth-year coach Tim Kenworthy will not return as the Lady Rams’ head coach next season.
After being reviewed for tenure, Kenworthy, a physical education instructor at the school, was not one of the 13 full-time faculty members approved for tenure by the Gavilan board of trustees on March 8.
Kenworthy will work through the end of his contract, which expires at the end of the semester in May.
In a letter to the editor Kenworthy wrote on March 13, published in the Dispatch on March 16, the coach claims he is not being rehired because he has often vocalized his concern over Title IX issues involving the women’s softball team to school officials.
“Although I have not received an official notice, as a strong advocate for women’s sports and equal rights, I have brought up a number of Title IX issues and disparities between our men’s baseball and women’s softball programs and I believe it’s the reason I’m not going to be rehired,” wrote Kenworthy, who did not respond to requests to be interviewed.
Neither Gavilan public information director Jan Berenstein-Chargin nor Gavilan athletic director Ron Hannon would give details about Kenworthy’s tenure review, citing confidentiality laws. However, Hannon did say he and Kenworthy have had conversations about the condition of the women’s softball field, a main point of contention between Kenworthy and the athletic department.
No formal Title IX complaints have been filed with regards to the softball program at Gavilan College.
No Field of Dreams
When Kenworthy was hired in 2001, the women’s softball program was in dire straits. The school couldn’t even field a team in the spring of 2001 because of lack of interest, said Hannon, who was hired as Gavilan’s first full-time athletic director in 2001.
Assistant softball coach Bruce Nicholson, who has a daughter who played softball at Gavilan in the late 90’s, said the program’s reputation was “horrible,” both on and off the field.
Kenworthy was brought in to turn that around.
“They didn’t even care about the girls,” said Nicholson, who spoke with the Dispatch Wednesday night. “That’s the way it was run back then. The coaches didn’t care about them. The administration didn’t. Judging by the coaches they brought in, they weren’t that caring.”
But not only was the program in shambles – so was the field.
As it applies to Gavilan athletics, Title IX – the federal law passed in 1972 which prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive any federal funds – requires that the school provide the same benefits to both men’s and women’s athletics alike, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation.
The baseball field has an outfield fence and scoreboard. The softball field does not. And at the beginning of Kenworthy’s career, field conditions were very poor and there were no dugouts. Kenworthy was concerned that the softball field was not up to par with the Rams’ baseball field. According to Nicholson, Kenworthy had drawn up plans about how he wanted to improve the field and even mentioned it in his cover letter when he applied for the position of head coach.
Hannon agreed that the field was not up to speed. He argued, however, that because the Gavilan College Sports Complex, which includes the women’s soccer and softball fields, is owned by the City of Gilroy and also used by recreational leagues, the athletic department was not at liberty to undertake the drastic measures needed to bring the field up to collegiate-level competition standards.
“(The City of Gilroy) maintained it to what meets their needs, which is fine,” Hannon said. “But it’s not getting to the standards we need.”
Berenstein-Chargin and Hannon said Gavilan and the City of Gilroy recently struck an agreement that would give Gavilan full control over the fields in August. They said that $50,000 – which has yet to be raised – will then be used to improve the field, including adding a fence and scoreboard.
But Nicholson said he doesn’t understand why at least a portable fence could not have been put up in the field in the meantime, especially since the adult rec softball leagues that use the field do not start playing until a week after the women’s softball season has ended.
Title IX violation?
Although Nicholson said he and Kenworthy had brought up the issue of Title IX several times, they never filed a formal complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the organization that handles Title IX complaints.
Instead, Nicholson and Kenworthy went to work on the field this past winter, without the backing of Gavilan. The company Nicholson works for, Granite Rock, donated concrete, sand and manpower to help build dugouts and improve the infield.
Nicholson said having a good facility is essential in building a successful program.
“(Players weren’t interested in Gavilan softball before) because there were no facilities,” he said. “It makes a big difference. You had no facility and no continuity in the coaching staff.”
Berenstein-Chargin said women’s athletics have become a priority since 2000-2001, a year when not a single women’s sports team at Gavilan could fill a roster. In the next school year, four women’s teams will compete, including the new volleyball team.
But Nicholson worries that the Gavilan softball program, without the return of Kenworthy, will revert back to its previous, dismal state.
“If you have a different coach every year, like a revolving door, which is basically what it was,” Nicholson said. “There’s nothing a (recruit) can set her sights on.”
A quick guide to Title IX
Title IX is the portion of the federal Education Amendments of 1972 that prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive any federal funds. As it applies to sports in schools, it’s pretty complex. But basically it boils down to this: Men’s sports and women’s sports at these institutions must receive the same benefits.
• How does a school comply with Title IX?
A school must comply with Title IX in several areas, beginning with fulfillment of student abilities and interests.
Area 1: Ability and Interest
The ratios of male student athletes to female student athletes compared with the ratio of full-time male students to full-time female students should be similar.
If this standard is not met, then two tests are applied:
• Has the institution shown a history and continuing practice of program expansion for the underrepresented sex?
• Are the interest and abilities of the underrepresented sex fully accommodated by the current program?
Area 2: Athletic Financial Assistance
There must be opportunities for both genders to receive scholarships, which must be proportional to each gender.
Area 3: Other Program Components
These includes, but are not limited to equipment, facilities, scheduling of games and practices, and recruiting.
• Areas of compliance in question at gavilan
The ratio of female athletes to female students.
At Gavilan there are 2,158 male students, 98 of whom are student-athletes. There are 3,111 female students enrolled, 33 of whom are student-athletes. (Note: These enrollment figures includes both full-time and part-time students. Title IX ratios pertain only to full-time students.)
A history and continuing expansion of women’s sports.
According to Gavilan athletic director Ron Hannon, Gavilan women’s sports have been competing collegiately since the late 1970’s, but there have been several years where a women’s team or teams did not have a season. “Over the years, there has been some fluctuation just based on student interest,” Hannon said. For example, in the 2000-2001 school year, no women’s sports teams were fielded because of lack of interest, he said. Men’s wrestling was also cut in the past due to lack of interest.
The women’s softball field does not have a scoreboard or outfield fence, but the men’s baseball field does.
• What gavilan is doing about these problems
Ratios and expansion of available women’s sports.
Women’s volleyball is being added in the fall, which will boost the number of female athletes and even out the number of Gavilan teams for both genders at four. However, there will still only be about half as many female athletes as male athletes. Hannon said the school would also like to add women’s water sports in the future.
Hannon said $50,000 worth of improvements will be made to the softball field, including the addition of a scoreboard and fence, when Gavilan takes sole authority over the field from the City of Gilroy in August.
For more information about Title IX, visit www.womenssportsfoundation.org
Sources: www.womenssportsfoundation.org, www.gavilan.edu