Strengthening Equity and Opportunity in Athletics

Andy Hamilton ’85, director of athletics and recreation

When John Kispert ’85 and Jill Goldberg Kispert put the final arrangements together for a gift to support intercollegiate athletics, it helped the College gain more focus about how designated giving would strengthen programming across campus. 

The Kispert gift is slated to support the athletic department’s vision for equity. We evaluated our overall program, and as a result we saw a need to develop a full-time position for an assistant coach in women’s athletics. This plan will not only support one or two women’s teams, it will also completely equalize the number of full-time employees working with men’s and women’s sports. An equitable ledger of support for both genders is very hard to achieve, yet it is important when focusing on federal employment standards shaped by Title IX. We view the Kisperts’ gift as a unique opportunity to impact gender equity in a valuable way.

Since the enactment of Title IX in 1972, Grinnell has maintained intercollegiate competition for both men and women. Our athletics directors during that period, John Pfitsch, Dee Fairchild, and Greg Wallace, all approached the task of creating gender balance and equity as a high priority. So being associated with the athletic department since 1981, I was instilled with concepts of balance and equal support for men and women. John and Jill Kispert were products of the same period of athletics history, and they lived out the struggle to envision and support athletics in an equitable way. Moreover, they keenly observe the functions of athletics for their two teenage children, who are making their way through club and school athletics competition.

A supplementary benefit from the gift is the opportunity to create a more robust, overall assistant coaching structure. This change was recommended through external reviews in 2007 and 2018. Heading into the fall of 2018, every team sport program will be supported by a half-time assistant coach. 

This change is significant because the Pioneer athletic department maintains a practice where head coaches are faculty, and they have coaching assignments for two sports. This concept is unique for selective liberal arts institutions. Our peer NCAA Division III institutions tend to have coaches lead only one sport with no faculty duties. I see this part of the Kispert gift as paramount to combating the stresses of two-sport coaches and enabling more success in our athletics program. 

The College and our athletic department are moving into an exciting time of our history. In recent years we have seen growth in designated giving, which is enriching the campus, our curriculum, programming, and opportunities for our students. It is clear that John and Jill evaluated this giving opportunity as a way to strengthen and advance a part of the cocurricular experience we provide our student-athletes. In many ways, their gift is already inspiring engagement and ideas from other potential donors who are finding and supporting their passions at Grinnell College. 

We are in the midst of focused and unique growth at the College. I am excited to see us strengthen our educational opportunities in the future, especially in the area of athletics. 

Share / Discuss