President Biff Williams announced plans to maintain Dixie State University’s Title IX compliance.
In the “Direction of Dixie” forum Nov. 17, Williams unveiled strategies to improve student life by focusing on athletics. The purpose of the forum was to convey his intentions of making St. George a true “college town” which entails an increase in support, enrollment, and including a proposed renovation of Hansen Stadium that would cost over $34 million.
“Everyone seems to want better sporting event experiences—from staff, donors and even students who don’t play sports,” Williams said. “They all want something that they can get excited and cheer for, and it starts with athletics.”
While still focusing on the educational side of the institution, Williams said in order for the university to grow, the athletic programs must grow just as exponentially, and, in doing so, must maintain compliance with Title IX.
Athletic Director Jason Boothe said there are many ways to do just that, and adding athletic programs is an option.
The university has already hired a women’s swimming coach, and that program is in the beginning stages of starting up, but other sports being implemented have also been discussed.
“It’s all about campus demand,” Boothe said. “Right now, we are in compliance with Title IX, and that means we might not need to change anything. But if we see the community truly wants something, we can at least explore our options.”
Boothe said he is open to the idea of adding new athletic programs but is still more focused on the betterment of the current programs first and foremost.
“We’re just testing the waters at this point,” Boothe said. “Historically, we have shown the willingness to add programs, and that helps us out. Right now, nothing is set in stone, and as enrollment increases, we’re considering all of our options to stay compliant.”
Williams said he shares Boothe’s thoughts.
“Adding athletic programs is just one of the many ways that [Title IX] balance can be achieved,” Williams said. “When you have a football program, it creates a tough situation because you have so many (male) players, and as a university, we are required to give women the same amount of opportunities as the men.”
Although nothing is affirmative, Williams said he does expect to implement another women’s sport in the next two years or so.
Beach volleyball, lacrosse, and track and field are the different programs most frequently mentioned among the community. Beach volleyball would be the first due to the influence of the already existing volleyball team and relatively low need for facilities.
“Obviously, there’s a process involved,” Williams said. “If we were to add a new track and field team, for example, we would need to hire a coaching staff and build a new track first. It’s not as simple as just starting a new program out of thin air.”
The possible implementation of new athletic programs is still uncertain and remains up in the air for now, but the growth of DSU seems imminent and that will force DSU officials to stay on their toes.
“We’re just trying to stay ahead of the game and plan for the future,” Boothe said. “You can never be too prepared.”