I’m a male who worked for women’s athletics at Texas’ flagship University years ago while completing post-graduate work in education. My position was termed an internship, but I’d already served as Sports Information Director for women at another University in completion of a Sports Administration masters degree. I was regarded differently from other assistants for reasons beyond gender distinctions. The greatest challenge came from those above me being female and several, including the AD, were openly gay, seemingly angry lesbian females.
It was said within the Department no more males would be hired, and I learned that the undercurrent of animosity extended to withholding supportive recommendations for employment, in spite of materials I’d written earning national awards. My work there included leadership roles for three NCAA Championship events, writing releases and wire service reports for assigned teams, and coordinating media coverage for specific events. A vote of confidence from superiors seemed to have been given mid-year when the NCAA Indoor National Swim Championships were turned over to me to direct for the Department just days before the event. I also assisted with regional and Final Four coverage of the NCAA Women's Basketball Championships, which the Lady Longhorns won in our own Erwin Center with an historic undefeated season. The NCAA Women's Tennis Championships were handed over to me far in advance, where I held a role similar to that of a Project Manager assigned leadership for events on Donald Trump's Apprentice.
One afternoon, in a room across from the Sports Information Office in Belmont Hall, I became engaged in discussion with a stranger during April, just weeks before the NCAA Tennis Championships. The aggressive, hostile sounding woman turned out to be the Director's long-time partner. She had no role with the Department and no right to be in our computer room, but she spewed opinions few would support, spoke and handled herself as if she owned the place. I didn't realize what other staff members may have known, that this aggressive, offensive woman was the Director's live-in lover.
We disagreed about teaching and student teaching, which she held an entry-level role for within the Department of Education as a graduate assistant working toward a PhD. Since my post-graduate studies were specific to completing requirements for teaching credentials in Texas, she became angered over my suggestion that four years of classroom teaching experience in private secondary schools, along with two years of post-secondary teaching ‒ one of which was an assistantship like hers ‒ should exempt me from the normal student teaching requirement. That seemed like a waste of time and money for an extra semester as a student, and was something that had already been addressed with an advisor, as well as the Dean of the College of Education, who agreed with me. But the Director's lover was furious!
Indignant, she demanded “Who the h*ll do you think you are?” Since I'd coached a top 10 women's collegiate tennis team and worked with highly ranked high school players, as well as aspiring professional players with Harry Hopman's Tennis Academy in Florida, I was probably more immune to her insults than she thought I should be. The NCAA Tennis Championships came into discussion, as a result, and I shared what I’d done and the role I was assigned for managing the tournament draw, draw boards and court assignments for the Championships. I’d already written and designed the ticket sales brochure and marketing materials for the event, made appearances at special events to boost interest, written tennis releases and major portions of the program for the Championships, and coordinated media requests for information and inclusion at the event. I’d also been assigned to run the tournament desk and direct match assignments for the most visible task I would manage. My role had been that of organizer and leader for virtually every phase of the Tennis Championships.
Of course, hearing a measure of my contribution and recognizing what I referred to softly in terms of who normally executed those tasks in other TTA sanctioned tournaments infuriated the stranger. While I laid no claim to being Director for the Tournament and understood that that role would be assigned to someone else, I was secure in what my assignment was and how it would be regarded by others outside of the anti-male leadership within women’s athletics.
My role was dramatically altered just 2-3 weeks before the event to take away the most visible leadership role I was set to handle; coordinating the tournament desk and running the tournament. That was my punishment. I was separated from the final stage of an event that was largely mine, like a project manager pulled from an Apprentice task just hours ahead of the event. Places my name had been listed and reference to my role with Women's Athletics were altered on materials I’d written...
and cut from a handsome program built upon materials I solicited regarding players anticipated to be amongst participants in the field. Interestingly, my written material during the season and contribution to the program gained national recognition from the United States Tennis Writers' Association and the Intercollegiate Tennis Coaches Association. Words I’d written for the Longhorn tennis program earned recognition as an Outstanding Feature Article On Collegiate Tennis, which included an honorarium sufficient to pay for summer classes. Of course, never would there be supportive words available in recommendation form as a result of an angry female(s) whose position amongst lesbian leaders in the Department meant normal human decency wasn’t supposed to apply to me.
Liberal progressives' prized AA and EEO policies were on full display in an athletic department where quality of work, a masters degree and experience in the field meant nothing. Simply put, gender meant everything.