Our very own Women’s basketball team has just made history for Saint Anselm College, claiming their first ever East Regional title. After being seeded seventh in the team’s first shot in the Elite Eight, upsets to three teams brought the Hawks to the gold. Their final record was an impressive 22-10. This is not the only East Regional title Saint Anselm College has earned this year, as a few weeks earlier our Men’s basketball team brought home the same title. Their season ended with a record of 25-5.
Though both teams earned the same title, they did not earn the same recognition. After their East Regional wins, both the men and women’s teams traveled to compete for a national title. Both fell short, and the season came to a close. On the way back to campus after the conclusion of their seasons, the two teams had very different experiences. The men’s basketball team took a private flight back to the Manchester airport and were welcomed back to campus with a police escort. The women’s basketball team flew commercial and had no escort back to campus. The difference did not go unnoticed by the student body. “I mean it is true that they made it one game further than us, but we were making history too…I felt disregarded…” said Jenoyce Laiyan, a sophomore on the women’s team. “But, I would like to say I am proud of the guy’s team for making it that far!”
The situation was referred to by a staff member as a “complete lack of acknowledgment of the success of Women’s Basketball…”. Questions and concerns were raised by staff and community members to athletics, senior administration, and communications, all to be left unanswered. A petition was quickly presented to the community by Professor Brian Penney. The petition was created in hopes that it would “…get the administration to acknowledge the discrepancy in treatment and to provide a proper chance for the community to officially welcome the women’s basketball team.”
The petition being circulated by Professor Brian Penney had been placed on hold as of Thursday afternoon as new information has brought some light to the subject. This is still an issue, as there have been no announcements from administrators as to when or if an event will be scheduled; however, Professor Penney conveyed to The Hilltopper that he had been in contact with Saint Anselm’s NCAA Compliance Director, Courtney McGrath and she provided more information.
After a tournament game has concluded the NCAA flies players out as soon as possible, and options for flights are based on location and availability. In the case of the men’s team, the NCAA scheduled a private plane back to Manchester. The women’s team was scheduled a commercial flight into Boston. Professor Penney said that in either case “The NCAA pays for and arranges for this; it is not the choice of the school.” He also said that scheduling a police escort “is easy to set up if a team arrives in Manchester, but not if they arrive in Boston as the women did.”
Although some concerns were clarified and resolved the issue of providing an adequate reception still stands. Some students and faculty are still upset by the lack of recognition for our women’s basketball team once back on campus, and some questions remain unanswered. New information presented Friday morning led to a renewed effort. After being told that the athletics administration has still not committed to holding an event faculty members are demanding action. These demands include:
- Acknowledgment of the unfairness of treatment with a campus-wide e-mail for the men;
- And an alternate, well-advertised event for the campus to celebrate women’s basketball
Additionally, the petition states that this inaction is “a violation of the Title IX provisions for equal publicity for women’s teams.” There has yet to be any response from administrators, but this does not mean that students and faculty can not help resolve the issue. As said by Professor Penney “We are a strong community and the goal is to properly celebrate our athletes who worked so hard and had a fantastic season. None of this should reflect on the men’s team, who had their own fantastic season, deserved a celebration, and were not part of any of these decisions.” As individuals and as a community we can celebrate all of our athletes by congratulating them on their success this season.
The Hilltopper, and Professor Penney reached out to Athletic Director Daron Montgomery and Director of Communications and Marketing Michelle Adams O’Reagan. They have yet to comment.
This article was researched and written with assistance from Kate Shubert.