SMC Men's Soccer vs. Title IX

During the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees meeting last Tuesday, Nov. 1, SMC athletics project manager Joe Cascio announced the possible addition of a men’s soccer program at SMC in the fall of 2012. According to Cascio, the possible addition of men’s soccer has already been approved by the Western States Conference, and is in compliance with the third prong of Title IX, which requires schools to offer sport programs requested by incoming students.

According to the U.S Department of Education website, Title IX establishes that, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

A three-prong test for compliance with Title IX was established by the U.S Department of Education, and one of the prongs must be met in order to establish a sport program.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, an institution is in compliance with Title IX “if the intercollegiate-level participation opportunities for male and female students at the institution are ‘substantially proportionate’ to their respective full-time undergraduate enrollments, the institution has a ‘history and continuing practice of program expansion’ for the underrepresented sex, or the institution is ‘fully and effectively’ accommodating the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex.”

Based on incoming student application data that is looked over annually, all the women’s sports that incoming students wished to play have been accounted for and offered at SMC. 

This allows SMC to add a men’s soccer program, which is by far the most requested sport at the school, according to Cascio.

Both Cascio and Tuitasi mentioned that women’s golf could be added in the future, even if it is not highly requested, in order to comply with Title IX regulations.

“Our goal is to continue to offer all of the sports that our students want to play that are available in the California Community College system,” said Cascio.

Mike Tuitasi, SMC Vice President of Student Affairs, said that SMC is in compliance with Title IX because men’s soccer has been the most requested sport by incoming students during the application process.

“We have a lot of students that want to play and we’re trying to provide that opportunity for them,” said Tuitasi.

Zouhair Elatache, second-year student at SMC from Morocco, said that he asked a lot of people about a men’s soccer team. “I even went to the Admissions center and, since I’m an international student, I went to the [International Student Center] to get information about it. I am wondering if this is the only college that doesn’t have soccer.”

At the Board of Trustees meeting, Cascio said, “We didn’t even consider a budget until we went through the Title IX and general equity aspect of it.”

Since Title IX and the general equity aspects have been cleared, it now comes down to finalizing the budget and getting it approved by the Board of Trustees.

Tuitasi has already submitted a budget request and is waiting to meet with SMC Vice President of Business and Administration, Bob Isomoto, to discuss instructional and auxiliary dollars.  Tuitasi mentioned that the soccer team would have to raise funds on its own.

“It’s really the money,” said Cascio, during an interview with the Corsair, in reference to men’s soccer becoming a reality and overcoming the budget concerns.

If the budget is approved, the next step will be to find a coach, something that Cascio believes won’t be a problem. “We have enough candidates that we are looking to promote a coach from within,” Cascio noted during the meeting.

Board of Trustee Dr. Nancy Greenstein said during the meeting that, “Athletics is important for many students because this is what motivates them to come to school and stay in school,” and that the “emphasis on the student as an athlete is critical for any institution, and I’m glad that we are refocused there.”

Greenstein might have been talking about students like Juan Ochoa, a freshman at SMC who was considering other schools because there was no competitive men’s team at SMC. “Yeah, I was going to go to El Camino or L.A. Harbor. But I came here because it was closer to me,” said Ochoa. “We were just waiting for the soccer to come through.”

But Cascio, who is very pleased with the possibility and the progress already made, is still “cautiously optimistic” about the final outcome.