Carly Q. Romalino Cherry Hill Courier-Post
Published 5:57 PM EST Nov 9, 2018
Outrage over an unwritten policy requiring athletes to cover up their sports bras has spurred Rowan University to put it on paper — sports bras are shirts.
The Glassboro, New Jersey-based college was pummeled with criticism Friday over a longstanding verbal policy requiring all athletes to wear shirts during games and practices. Shirts had been required over sports bras, too.
Controversy kicked up after Rowan student and track team member Gina Capone posted to theodysseyonline.com, slamming Rowan’s ban on female athletes wearing sports bras without a shirt during training.
Capone, whom Rowan officials confirmed is a student at the college, could not be reached for comment.
“We run in sports bras because we are confident, hard-working student athletes,” Capone wrote. “We do not run in a sports bra as a way to show off our bodies in attempts to distract men.”
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Capone said the women’s cross country team is also barred from practicing on the school’s track. Capone claims her team was told running in sports bras is “distracting to the football players on the field during the same time,” she wrote in the post.
The university said Capone’s claim is in error.
The bra rule — a ban of shirtless practicing for athletes of all genders — has been a longstanding “verbal” policy that university spokesman Joe Cardona said is not in line with today’s practices.
“The roots of that policy is an attempt to teach all of our athletes there are certain standards,” Cardona said, noting the policy required athletes to wear shirts during competition and practice.
The shirt requirement was recently re-explained to athletics department staff and forwarded to athletes, many of whom were hearing it for the first time, according to a university statement.
University president Ali Houshmand announced Friday that Rowan will loosen its policy to allow women to practice in sports bras without also wearing shirts, recognizing the NCAA’s declaration that the garments are sufficient coverings.
That updated policy will be written down, Cardona said.
While the university noted its verbal policy attempted to set standards, “it could be misunderstood and does not accommodate today’s training practices across sports,” Houshmand’s statement read. “Rowan strongly affirms its commitment to ensuring that women are able to train and perform at the highest levels.”
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