Home » Sports Channel » Field Hockey » General » Field Hockey Coach Nancy Cole: Feeling The Heat From Filing A Title IX Complaint

Field Hockey Coach Nancy Cole: Feeling The Heat From Filing A Title IX Complaint

One teacher, who agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity because that teacher lacks tenure, said: "I don't know if the whole thing was meant to intimidate Nancy. But it wouldn't work anyway."

Is speaking out about Cole's case a valid worry?

"Oh, I would not be speaking to you if I didn't have tenure," Centereach's Cooke shot back.

Knowing the above incidents happened-and more-what would you think if you were Nancy Cole or one of her field hockey players last fall on the day Centereach played its biggest regular-season game of the year, a first- place showdown against archrival Ward Melville, and the strangest thing happened...?

Centereach's field sprinkler system, which the grounds crew supposedly turned off for the winter three weeks earlier, suddenly erupted during the game-once in the first half, again at halftime, then once more in the second half, dousing players and halting play each time.

"Do I think it was intentional?" Cole asks now. She breaks into a deep, rumbling laugh and says, "Aw, you know...you really, really hate to think that, but, I mean..."

Another wry laugh.

"What do you think?"

The treatment Cole alleges since filing her Title IX complaint is not uncommon. Others who have filed complaints typically report incidents they interpret as retaliation.

Depending upon whom you talk to, Title IX-the law that Cole and Williams invoked-is one of two things: It's the greatest thing that ever happened to women's athletics, and it has helped powerfully change how society thinks of women and how women think of themselves. Or Title IX has been a bane; it's created a quota system; it's given people a legal avenue to "pit" women against men.

But even the appropriation of the word "fairness" strikes a raw nerve among Title IX supporters. They say the law's intended effects aren't even close to fruition and that the protection Title IX provides is still crucial. The Women's Sports Foundation estimates that approximately 80 percent of high schools and colleges across the country are still not in compliance with Title IX, even though it's been 29 years since the law hit the books. That, women's sports advocates say, is unconscionable.

Barbieri, whose daughter plays for Cole, said: "The thing that gets me is after all Nancy has done for the school, what Nancy was asking for is not just right-it was so little."

Peras, whose daughter Shanna plays on Centereach's field hockey and softball teams, said: "If this were band and not sports, this wouldn' t be allowed to happen."

So why is it still happening?

Many women's sports advocates blame the Office of Civil Rights, which has never-not once in 29 years-withheld federal funds from a school or university found to be in violation of Title IX.

Sometimes, as in Cole's case, there's really no need. When faced with a federal complaint, a district will work with the OCR to reach what' s called "a resolution agreement," as Middle Country did by agreeing last November to renovate the existing girls team room at Centereach. Assistant superintendent O'Connor-Roys says the OCR, after extensive review of the district' s entire athletic program, has so far ordered no changes other than the team room.

Other times, a complainant who is unhappy with the OCR's ruling will feel there is no alternative but the expensive choice of going to court. Cole, who has worked alone and done her own research, meticulously writing out her correspondence by hand, has always preferred trying to work with the school district.