Field: College Broke Title IX Rule

By Michael Mishler

The Mendocino College Part-Time Faculty Association has protested the removal of women's volleyball coach Peter Field, unanimously passing a resolution in his support.

Field received a letter June 16 from Lefty Olguin, the director of Athletics, terminating Field's coaching status but not his teaching assignments. Field had a one-year agreement that was not renewed.

MPFA members said in the Aug. 4, resolution, that Olguin's action was "in retaliation" for "Field's efforts to prevent transfer of funds from the women's volleyball program to a men's athletic program in violation of Title Nine."

Title IX of the 1964 Civil Rights Act requires equal participation in, and equal funding of, women's and men's athletic programs.

For his part, Field said he is considering a formal complaint to the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, charging violations of Title Nine.

In a letter to the state Community College Association, MPFA Secretary Neill Bell said the resolution was "a good way for us to demonstrate that we are unwilling to stand by and watch what we see as another mugging of one of our members who has had the courage to ask pertinent questions."

In a Jan. 25 "To Whom It May Concern" letter sent to college officials, Field wrote, " I adamantly oppose the transfer of any funds from a women's program to supplement, cover for, augment, bail out or in any other manner increase the budget of a men's program" before budgetary deadlines.

"My understanding of the intention of Title Nine legislation is to work towards the equitable treatment of men's and women's sports both in the allocation of funds and in the equivalent number of participants,"

Field wrote. "I want to make it clear that I will not violate nor condone the violation of Title Nine legislation as I understand it."

Olguin replied to Field in a March 10 memo, "The fact that money has been moved from one budget to help another, especially after the season has ended, is not against any law. On the contrary, it is good fiscal management."

As for Title Nine, Olguin wrote, "The intent of this legislation is to work toward equity for women in athletics," which, he said, Mendocino College has done.

"Women's programs receive the same treatment in terms of budget allocations as do the men's programs," Olguin told Field.

In his June 16 letter terminating Field's coaching assignment, Olguin wrote of several concerns, including "consistently low enrollment numbers" in Field's volleyball classes, poor recruiting, "very little personal communication with all high school coaches" in the area, poor transfer rates for his students to four-year schools and "extremely limited" availability of the coach to athletes.

"Therefore, in the best interests of the students and the volleyball program," Olguin wrote to Field, "your assignment next semester, Fall 1999, will not include coaching."

In reply, Field wrote in a June 20 letter to Mendocino College President Carl Ehmann that none of the concerns listed in Olguin's June 16 letter are the real issue.

"I suggest that the reason I am being terminated or not reassigned is because I have objected to the transfer of funds, for the second time, from the women's volleyball program to offset an over-expenditure in the men's baseball program," Field wrote.

"In meetings with Olguin before I gave him my letter of objection, I was told that I was doing a very good job and that he was impressed with the level of play exhibited" by the women's volleyball team, Field told Ehmann.

"After my objections were voiced, there was a marked difference in the treatment I received from him," Field said.

In Bell's letter he referred to "a glowing evaluation" of Field by a full-time faculty member and "good marks from student and full-time faculty evaluations."

MPFA's resolution characterized Field as "highly qualified" for his coaching job, which he "performed in an exemplary fashion."

I'm not interested in creating trouble for the Athletic Department or for any particular individual, for that matter," Field said. "And I'm not trying to get my coaching position back. I'm interested in a fair treatment of all athletes in all programs."

Field expressed his hope also that this issue would focus public attention on Mendocino College.

"The public doesn't really pay attention to what happens here," he said.
"Enough has happened that, if they were paying attention, changes would have been made by this time."

 

For more about the Peter Field Case, see articles in the part-time faculty Review.


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