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Legislature approves $2.3m to assist toward Title IX disparities

TU logo thumbThe Maryland General Assembly passed legislation today approving a $2 million capital appropriation to Towson University for the construction of a new women’s softball stadium. The stadium approval comes days after the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation establishing a $300,000 intercollegiate athletics donation incentive match program.

The approved capital legislation gives Towson $500,000 in FY2014 and $1.5 million in FY2015 to build a softball stadium which Towson University President Maravene Loeschke cited as one of the costly gender inequities requiring immediate attention if baseball were to continue at Towson.

The softball stadium was also one of the many Title IX and financial factors highlighted during the six-month process that ultimately led to the discontinuation of two sports at Towson, men’s soccer and baseball in March.

“Governor O’Malley’s initial budget request was a first step and with the stadium approval today we are making progress on the gender inequities in our sports offerings,” said President Loeschke.

“This new women’s softball stadium will help us address a disparity between baseball and softball at Towson, and I thank Senator Ed DeGrange and Speaker Pro Tem Adrienne Jones for their leadership in that effort. However, there is still work to be done on achieving proportionality and the commensurate scholarships, and services necessary to support all student-athletes.”

In addition to addressing the disparity between men’s and women’s facilities, Towson must also address a “laundry list” of NCAA items such as scholarships, recruiting budgets, staff salaries and support services.

“I’m thankful to President Loeschke for her leadership and everyone in the legislature that had anything to do with this new women’s facility,” said Towson softball Head Coach Lisa Costello. “With this stadium, we have the opportunity to be more competitive in the CAA and address a real gap in facilities that widened over the years.”

The University System of Maryland (USM) incentive match program revises the Governor’s initial supplemental budget request announced earlier this month. The program will be available to USM institutions competing in NCAA Division I sports seeking to maintain compliance with Title IX. The program will provide Towson a window of opportunity to address Title IX inequities and will also provide baseball supporters enough operating assistance to engage in an aggressive fundraising campaign to enable the baseball program to be self-sufficient by fall 2015. The program will require institutions and boosters to raise private dollars to match the state assistance.

The discontinuation of men’s soccer will still be necessary for Towson to make progress on Title IX proportionality based on undergraduate enrollment. Both legislative decisions will go a long way in assisting the institution in providing an affordable, high quality education while enhancing the student experience at Towson University.