Field hockey booted in favor of women’s soccer

By Steve Dennis

As expected, the NIU Athletic Board dropped the ax on the field hockey program at its final meeting of the 1991-92 school year on May 6.

By a 10-4 vote among board members, field hockey was eliminated as an intercollegiate sport at NIU and women’s soccer was implemented.

The request was then sent to NIU President John La Tourette who made the decision official through a May 28 memo to Athletic Director Gerald O’Dell.

The action takes effect immediately, with the field hockey budget being transferred over to the women’s soccer fund.

All of the preparations for a women’s soccer team are being put into consideration at the present time and a coach is expected to be named sometime in the fall or after the first of the year, said O’Dell.

What is known is that the team will start intercollegiate play on the Huskie Soccer Field in 1993-94.

“Soccer will attract more female student-athletes into our program than field hockey can,” NIU associate Athletic Director Cary Groth said at the meeting.

“Field hockey brings in 12 to 17 players a year, while women’s soccer will attract 22-28 per year,” she added.

The elimination of field hockey comes after O’Dell first announced his recommendation on April 1 to coach Laurie Bell, her staff and players and all other NIU coaches.

Board member Janet Rintala expressed her feelings that the dropping of one sport and replacing it with another may not be in the best of judgment concerning gender equity.

“It is a larger issue as far as I am concerned,” she said. “It does include issues of gender equity.

“We are not in a position of gender equity, and I think we should be making decisions to work toward that. … We may have been in compliance under former guidelines, but guidelines have changed and we must be responsive to those changes.”