Softball scoreboard raises questions about equal funding

Athletic director discusses controversy about possible funding inequity

A picture of the softball and baseball scoreboards side by side, one dilapidated and one brand new, respectively, appears on sophomore Elizabeth Patton’s Twitter feed. Moments later, controversy and accusations ensue.

 “I tweeted it because I thought it was funny because [the scoreboards] are so different,” Patton said.

Despite Patton’s intentions, questions of funding equity for gender-specific, publicly-funded activities—legally mandated by Title IX—arose quickly. Members of the baseball team assumed the defensive.

“The baseball players got really upset by it and [began] this huge Twitter [response],” Patton said. “[They were] saying the softball players were complaining.”

Junior Joel Spain, varsity baseball player, watched tensions mount on social media.

“Some people made some wild accusations, and other people got defensive, [but] everyone ended with a better understanding of what’s happening,” Spain said.

Junior Adam Strathman, junior varsity baseball player, does not approve of the animosity expressed online, but he does not think that the issue is particularly serious, especially when it does not compromise the team’s ability to play.

“I think everyone has the right equipment for the sport that they are playing, and I do not think that teams are being completely shorted,” Strathman said.

As more softball players spoke about their understanding of the situation, they made it clear that they were unsure of all of the details but simultaneously reluctant to overstep their bounds by seeking answers.

“It’s not my place to be going out and telling them what to do,” Patton said. “I have no interest in making people upset.”

While Patton and her teammates wished to avoid unnecessary trouble, they may have easily found answers if they had asked a few questions. Athletic Director and Head Baseball Coach Mike Hill explained the situation clearly, without hesitation.

“Both programs are getting a new scoreboard by the upcoming year,” Hill said.

Some wonder whether the apparent disparity between the advanced baseball scoreboard and basic softball scoreboard will continue to be a problem.

“Softball will be given an equal amount of money and the option to expand their scoreboard as well,” Hill said.

Hill explained that the district will give both teams the same funds. If a team wants a more advanced piece of equipment, it can supplement the initial amount with fundraising dollars. Yet Spain believes that some think Hill prefers one team over another.

“A lot of people think baseball gets more because Mr. Hill is the [athletic director] and the baseball coach,” Spain said.

Questions about Hill treating a specific team differently can be answered by one aspect of the funding system.

“[Coaches] work in conjunction with the bookkeeping department before they make purchases,” Hill said.

These kind of checks are in place to prevent any kind of foul play, and Hill added that there will be a scrutinizing search in the near future of the district’s funds that will check any violations of funding equality laws.

“One of the things that the district as a whole is doing is to look at the booster clubs and address what issues may be there,” Hill said.

The controversy raises relevant questions about the funding system and its efficacy in maintaining equal funding, yet the Athletic Director remains adamant in his belief that the school is effective in its maintenance.

“I am not aware of any [inequities] at the current time,” Hill said.