Some members of the San Jose State community believe that there is apparent favoritism in press and marketing campaigns for men’s athletic teams over the women’s.
This is a common trend across college campuses. It’s no secret that college football and basketball teams are the money makers of college athletics.
However, a recent Twitter debate between an SJSU alumnus and the assistant athletics director continued to spark the controversial topic of why football and basketball continue to get recognition and donations when both teams are losing.
Alumnus Keanu Haghighi tweeted that over the past two years, SJSU football and men’s basketball have only won a combined total of 3 Mountain West Conference games. Basketball recently won a conference game this season, bringing that new total to 4 conference wins in 2 years.
Keanu added to the debate by saying that the school would rather give the basketball and football teams attention instead of recognizing excelling female athletes.
For instance gymnast Taylor Chan currently ranks No. 41 in the nation according to Road to Nationals, has 14 first places finishes this season and holds three Top 10 SJSU school records.
Haghighi tweeted, “But shout out to the women’s sports that do well but never get the proper recognition by the school.”
The tweet caught the attention of assistant athletics director Ryan O’Rorke who questioned what Haghighi meant by “proper coverage.” O’Rorke stated that women athletes have been fairly rewarded for their achievements.
O’Rorke commented back to Haghighi tweeting, “Keanu, I’m curious as to what you would consider proper recognition? Multi-million dollar investments in brand new softball, tennis and soccer facilities seem like pretty good recognition to me.”
SJSU students disagreed with O’Rorke’s statement, claiming that they still have yet to witness more recognition given to women’s athletics on campus.
Junior rugby player Rebecca Carmick, a environmental studies and anthropology major shared the same sentiment.
“It’s honestly shocking that today we still see men’s faces all over campus banners, but it’s rare to see a woman’s up there,” Carmick said.
In the continued tweet thread, Haghighi made it a point to explain to O’Rorke that “we are the laughing stock of the [Mountain West Conference]. Many people liking this post are SJSU athletes who feel the same way.”
He added that although the athletics department has made some contributions to the women’s facilities, it does not compare to what they give men’s sports team.
“We all know a majority of the funding goes into the men’s athletics,” said Haghighi in an email interview.
In January, donors gave $1 million to the men’s football facilities, and yesterday the team got $500,000 more.
According to the SJSU Newsroom website, “This gift will provide new lockers and Spartan-themed graphics for the football team locker room in the existing Simpkins Stadium Center.”
This particular repetition of athletic funding typically going only toward the men’s team is a common event that occurs on university campuses. However at SJSU, Haghighi believes it’s unjustified.
“I’ve seen multiple tweets from athletes thanking donors that donate millions of dollars to Spartan football,” Haghighi continued. “And football has won what? Two games, three games in the last two years. It’s awful.”
Students and other SJSU members additionally pointed out the ongoing issue of facility improvements for women’s teams.
With a follow-up tweet, Haghighi reminded O’Rorke that the university still has its track and field team practicing on a dirt field full of trash and that the softball stadium was not finished on time when it was promised to the women’s team.
Haghighi wrote on Twitter, “You know that dirt field students used to tailgate on right across the stadium? That’s where women’s track and field practice. It’s literally a field full of debris and trash.”
According to SJSU track and field athletes, the team continues to play on the run-down track.
SJSU Athletics also declined to comment when the beach volleyball court will be completed. It was projected to be completed by the beginning of beach volleyball season last month.
O’Rorke made it a point to state that media coverage is not based on who is performing best nor does it involve favoring a particular team based on success.
In an email O’Rorke explained, “The win-loss record does not determine how much one program receives compared to another. We want all our programs to succeed academically, athletically and in the community.”
However, Carmick pointed out that despite women’s teams performing well, it only takes the men’s team to win one game to automatically give them social media recognition.
“Men’s team win one game, it’s publicized like crazy, but if a women’s team wins nationals or conference, hardly anyone hears about it,” Carmick added.
The former alumnus, along with many other Spartan community members, agree that there must be a change made to better promote and fund all SJSU athletes, and it starts with marketing.
“Advertise their games more. Do more promotions,” Haghighi said. “They try to do promotions with the men’s basketball and football and some for women’s, but the promotions are just so weak.”