Rowan University addresses cross country sports bra policy

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An article written by Rowan University student Gina Capone caught the attention of the school’s community and many others on Nov. 8.

Capone, a sophomore who was on the women’s cross country team last year and is listed  as a member of the track and field team this year, addressed a situation pertaining to the university suspending the women’s cross country team from wearing sports bras.

In her article, Capone states that “women running around the track in sports bras at their own practice were claimed to be distracting to the football players on the field during the same time,” drawing in a meeting between cross country coach Derick Adamson and Rowan Athletic Director Dan Gilmore that came to “the verdict of the women on the team no longer being able to run in sports bras. If that wasn’t already enough of an outrage, it was also decided the women were no longer allowed to run on the track.”

Rowan University, in response to the post that has seen coverage from The Philadelphia Inquirer, Courier Post, NJ.com and The Press of Atlantic City, sent out two individual Rowan Announcers.

In the first sent at 12:08 p.m. today, the announcer, signed by President Ali Houshmand and approved by Vice President of University Relations, Jose Cardona, states “I ensure you that the University and our Athletics program are committed to providing the most accommodating and fair environment for all of our athletes.” It also says that the university has had “a longstanding verbal protocol that all athletes must wear shirts, even during practices. The verbal policy was adopted as a matter of keeping a level of standards throughout its men’s and women’s programs.”

According to the announcer, the result of new staff explaining the verbal policy to students had many interpreting it as a new policy.

University administration then met with the Athletics Department and “promises immediately to develop a written policy that allows women athletes to wear sports-bra tops without shirts during practices,” after noting that the administration had just become aware that the verbal policy existed.

The announcer, written by President Ali Houshmand, says that Rowan Athletics “will continue to follow NCAA guidelines for uniforms during competition,” and that in the new formal policy, written in bold in the email, “there will be no restriction of sports bras without shirts as practice apparel.” 

The email concludes with saying that it is possible the verbal policy, attempting to set standards, could be misunderstood and “does not accommodate today’s training practices across sports.”

Nearly three hours later, at 3:03 p.m., another Rowan Announcer was sent out.

It says that Capone’s article misstated a longstanding athletic facility use policy and “explained in error that the Cross Country team was no longer allowed to use the track at the Rowan stadium.” The stated policy makes sure that each athletic facility is used by one team at a time.

Due to their mixed schedule that contains road work, track work and trail work, the cross country team’s practice time in the fall in football season is when the football team is done on the sports stadium.

According to the email, coach Adamson has “historically made alternate plans for the team to use Glassboro High School’s track, which is directly across the street from Rowan’s stadium.”

Recently, per the announcer, there was a situation where the cross country team went to use the high school track only to find the accessibility to it locked, bringing them to practice at the Rowan stadium while the football team was still there.

The problem at hand was discussed at an Athletic Department meeting on “a subsequent day, however, by the time the clarification of the one-team-at-a-time policy was reiterated to students, it was interpreted as though the Cross Country team was being prohibited from future use of the facility,” the announcer states. It then goes on to say that this is not the case and reassuring the policy of each athletic team having “designated schedules and ensured dedicate time.”

The second announcer finishes by saying that “there are times when athletes and teams may informally overlap in their use of a particular facility, however, the policy is one team at a time at each athletic venue.”

The Whit is currently attempting to schedule interviews with all sides of the story and will have more to come with further developments.

For questions/comments about this story, email editor@thewhitonline.com or tweet @TheWhitOnline.

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