Iowa State Cyclones

Report: Iowa State gets F grade for share of women's sports coached by women

'We don't have enough female role models'

Cyclones head wrestling coach Kevin Dresser (right) answers questions on stage as John Walters (left), Voice of the Cycl
Cyclones head wrestling coach Kevin Dresser (right) answers questions on stage as John Walters (left), Voice of the Cyclones, and head volleyball coach Christy Johnson-Lynch (center) look on during the Cyclone Tailgate Tour stop at the Cedar Rapids Marriott in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, May. 15, 2018. (The Gazette)
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The newest edition of an annual report on the number of women in college sports gives Iowa State University an F for having only 18.2 percent of head coaches of women’s teams being women.

The Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota, along with WeCOACH, ranked 86 college athletics departments in seven primary NCAA Division I conferences.

They found the share of female head coaches of women’s teams at these institutions went up overall for a seventh straight year to 42.3 percent in 2019-2020 from 41.8 percent in 2018-2019.

[Read the full report]

Four schools — Cincinnati, Central Florida, Washington and Oklahoma — got A grades for having head female coaches for at least 70 percent of women’s sports. The University of Iowa got a C for having seven of 13, or 53.8 percent, of women’s sports led by female coaches.

Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw said last year she would not hire a man for her coaching staff because she wants her teams to have female leaders.

“We don’t have enough female role models,” the Chicago Tribune reported McGraw said at the 2019 Final Four in Tampa, Fla. “We don’t have enough visible women leaders. We don’t have enough women in power.”

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Notre Dame lost the 2019 NCAA championship to Baylor by one point.

Nine universities got F grades in the Tucker Center report, with four of those from the Big 12. Only two of ISU’s 11 head coaches of women’s sports are women. Those women are Christy Johnson-Lynch, head volleyball coach, and Christie Martens, head women’s golf coach.

Four universities — Arizona, Kentucky, West Virginia and Oklahoma State — scored lower than ISU. Oklahoma State has no female head coaches of women’s sports, the Tucker Center found.

ISU athletics officials said they were disappointed the Tucker Center didn’t talk with ISU staff before doing the report.

“It is disappointing to see any organization form an opinion about our culture or draw any conclusions without even having a conversation with anyone at Iowa State,” Calli Sanders, senior associate athletics director for sports administration, wrote in an email to The Gazette. “We work exceeding hard to recruit diverse pools of candidates for any positions in athletics, and, especially leadership positions like head coaches.”

Iowa State actively recruits high-quality female coaches by advertising widely and communicating with colleges across the country to seek nominations, Sanders wrote. It also reaches out directly to women it wants to encourage to apply for open positions.

“We have a high retention rate for our coaches, so openings do not occur regularly,” Sanders wrote.

“There are certain sports that nationally, have a very low application rate for females. When this happens, we step up our efforts to find more female candidates. Once our pool is established, we hire the best person for the job — intentionally hiring a person of specific gender is against the law.”

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ISU reported it has not received any complaints from student-athletes about the relatively low representation of women among head coaches at the school.

In addition to grading schools, the report graded athletics conferences, giving the Big Ten a C, with the highest average share of female coaches at greater than 49.5 percent, and the Big 12 a D, with the lowest average share of female coaches at less than 28.3 percent. Conferences included were the AAC, ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC.

Comments: (319) 339-3157; erin.jordan@thegazette.com

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