University of Cincinnati arena decision sparks gender debate


CINCINNATI (AP) — Critics are pointing to the differences between the facilities the University of Cincinnati basketball teams will play in next season.

The Bearcat women’s team will use St. Ursula Academy, a nearby high school, for practices and games while the Fifth Third Arena on UC’s campus is renovated. The men’s team will play in the much-larger Northern Kentucky University BB&T Arena.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports (http://cin.ci/2naKN3x ) some experts say the move is unfair and runs counter to federal Title IX law on equitable treatment.

Longtime Bearcat women’s hoops supporter Tamaya Dennard says the difference in temporary homes indicates a “lack of respect” for women’s teams.

“That gym is not for a Division I athlete. They have no business playing there,” added Dennard.

Even UC men’s basketball all-time great Oscar Robertson was taken back.

“I think that it’s really difficult for the women to accept something like that, in this day and age,” Robertson told The Enquirer.

UC Athletic Director Mike Bohn says the move is in the best interests of the program and student-athletes. He says the private Catholic high school can host the amenities for a strong playing environment.

“It’s a facility that is close to campus and as least intrusive as possible,” Bohn said.

St. Ursula’s gym holds around 1,000 compared to BB&T Arena’s more than 9,000 seats.

Nancy Hogshead-Makar, civil rights lawyer and three-time Olympic gold medal winner, commented: “If you ask the men would they switch, what would they say? That answers the basic fairness question.”

Maggie McKinley, executive senior associate director, said that the women’s team couldn’t fit into Northern Kentucky’s busy arena schedule which includes NKU’s teams and other events.

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Information from: The Cincinnati Enquirer, http://www.enquirer.com