Grove City College Thrives; Women Excel in Sports after Bias-Law Win

Article excerpt

Byline: George Archibald, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

GROVE CITY, Pa. - Twenty years ago in these hills of western Pennsylvania an hour north of Pittsburgh, a small liberal-arts college with a Christian vision faced down both the Carter and Reagan administrations over the issue of federal control in the name of women's equality. Grove City College won a landmark 1984 Supreme Court ruling that the school was not discriminating and that the U.S. Education Department was improperly trying to regulate all of the school's activities under Title IX of the Civil Rights Act just because some students received federal grants.

But today, after refusing any government aid or interference, Grove City still bests most federally regulated colleges and universities in the equal-opportunity arena, despite being free from the requirements of Title IX.

"We do it as a matter of conscience," said Richard G. Jewell, the college's president, in an interview. "It is important to remember that the dispute with the federal government, from our perspective, was not about the goals of Title IX - opportunity and equality for women in athletics, which we embrace.

"But it was about whether the college could be legally required to following Title IX when it didn't receive federal money. In short, the case for us was about institutional operating freedom, and that freedom has produced remarkable results," Mr. Jewell said.

Grove City's record supports the claim:

c More than two-thirds of the college's 2,300 students - equally divided between young men and women - participate in intramural and varsity sports - playing everything from bowling to rugby football on the exquisitely manicured 500-acre campus.

c Men and women each have 10 varsity NCAA Division III sports teams, which last year won eight President's Athletic Conference championships.

c Both men's and women's teams won PAC championships in cross country, tennis and track and field. Men won basketball and swimming, while women were golf champions.

c During the past seven years, Grove City women have won six PAC All-Sports trophies and men have won five.

Grove City has the only eight-lane all-deep-water competitive pool in NCAA Division III.

The men's swim team has had 53 consecutive winning seasons, 20 conference championships, and placed second in the conference 14 times since 1951, said swim coach David C. Fritz. Last year, graduating senior Peggy Whitbeck won her third consecutive NCAA swimming championship title in the 200-yard butterfly, setting a new national record time of 2:03.03.

"We have a very strong academic emphasis," said Athletic Director Donald L. Lyle. Each year, about 150 of Grove City's varsity players receive scholar athlete awards for at least a 3.2 grade-point average.

Last year, 78 of the college's 390 varsity athletes were on the PAC academic honor roll with a 3. …