Melina Korfonta ’25
Assistant Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Compliance Pamela Whitley gave an update on the Title IX Audit into Trinity College’s athletic offerings in email to members of the community on Friday, Jun. 3.
“The attorneys conducting the audit, Phil Catazano and Janet P. Judge from Education and Sports Law Group, have reviewed our facilities and have conducted interviews with coaches and athletic department staff,” announced Whitley. She indicated that surveys and interviews with student athletes are forthcoming.
As the Tripod previously reported, the audit is sectioned into three phases. Phase one includes planning and facility reviews. In phase two, the firm will gather data through interviews with coaches, students, and related staff. Phase three is the feedback process which includes findings and recommendations.
The interviews address 12 of the 13 components of Title IX: (1) provision of equitable participation opportunities; (2) provision and maintenance of equipment and supplies; (3) scheduling of games and practice times; (4) travel and per diem expenses; (5) opportunity to receive coaching, assignment and compensation of coaches; (6) opportunity to receive academic tutoring; (7) provision of locker rooms and practice and competitive facilities; (8) provision of medical and training services; (9) provision of dining and housing services; (10) recruitment; (11) publicity; and (12) support services. The one component that is not relevant is scholarship because Division III institutions are prohibited from providing athletically related financial aid.
Whitley indicated that the College expects the audit to be completed by the end of the summer. A summary of the findings and recommendations will be released in the early fall. Trinity will then use the results to plan and execute short- and long-term strategies “with the goal of ensuring fair and equitable experiences for all our student athletes.”
In a statement emailed to the Tripod, Whitley indicated that she is not in a position to answer questions related to the audit without sharing the information to the community. “It’s most important in my role to protect the integrity of the audit and sharing names, questions and specifics at this time would infringe upon that. I will say that great work is being done by the attorneys and we are anticipating a summary of the findings and recommendations in the early fall,” said Whitley.
Director of Athletics and Physical Education Chair Drew Galbraith did not respond to the Tripod’s request for comment. Associate Athletic Director for Compliance and Student-Athlete Welfare Kristen Noone declined to comment and referred questions to Whitley.
In November, the Tripod reported the College’s plan to conduct a Title IX audit into its athletics offerings. In an email to the Trinity community, President of the College Joanne Berger-Sweeney announced that an independent law firm would be hired to complete the audit. She reported at the time that temporary bleachers would be installed for Sheppard Field, and that a feasibility study for bleachers on the softball field was in progress.
Berger-Sweeney’s announcement came after the Trinity College Women’s Athletic League (TWAL), a coalition of representatives from the women athletics teams, created an online petition in September to “Stop Gender Inequity in Athletics at Trinity College.” The student athletes a part of TWAL alleged gender disparities in the Jessee Miller and Robin L. Sheppard Fields renovation projects. The former hosts the men’s lacrosse and football teams, and the latter is used by the women’s field hockey and lacrosse teams. The petition requested a full assessment of the College’s compliance with Title IX by January of this year.
The renovations included new spectator stands for Jessee Miller and Sheppard Fields, a new press box for both fields, two enclosed suites for spectating and stadium-related events, warming rooms for Trinity athletes and visiting teams, and new restroom facilities, according to a March 2021 email from Vice President for Student Success and Enrollment Management Joe DiChristina.
Galbraith previously told the Tripod that the renovations were approved by the Board of Trustees for design in April 2019 and construction in February 2020. The College subsequently paused all capital projects at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring 2020 semester. In the spring of 2021, the College announced the beginning of the construction process for the renovations with a fall completion date.
According to TWAL’s petition, the men’s football stadium was fully upgraded by the summer of 2021 while the Sheppard Field renovations remained incomplete.
“The proposed plan of a stadium capable of holding a total of 1,000 spectators on the sideline of Sheppard field (women’s) in preparation for the hosting the [sic] NCAA final four and championship, turned out to be an unimpressive set of 5-row metal bleachers that were set up in a matter of days. Regardless of the plans, the end product on the Sheppard side is not the same quality, nor does it provide the same spectator experience as the Miller side (men’s),” the petition reads.
In an interview with the Tripod in October, Galbraith and DiChristina attributed the incomplete status of the Sheppard Fields project to “man power and supply chain issues” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Galbraith reported at the time that the College had just received windscreens for the back of Jessee Miller and Sheppard fields. Responding to questions regarding the end date of the project, Galbraith stated that “it’s difficult to tell” and the College is “literally at the whims of manpower.”
This article was updated Friday, July 8th to include comment from Whitley.