"We run in sports bras because we are confident, hardworking student-athletes," Runner Gina Capone wrote Thursday in the blog. Later that day, the covering up rule was dead.
An unofficial policy that banned female cross country athletes at Rowan University from training in their sports bras will come to an end after a runner unleashed on the rule in a blog post.
Women on the cross country team were told earlier this season that training in just sports bras would no longer be allowed.
“We run in sports bras because we are confident, hardworking student-athletes,” Capone wrote in the blog, which was published Thursday. “We do not run in a sports bra as a way to show off our bodies in attempts to distract men.”
Ali A. Houshmand, president of Rowan University, said Friday that the rule is headed for the trash. The requirement came from a longstanding Athletic Department “verbal policy” requiring shirts at practice.
It was intended to keep “a level of standards throughout its men’s and women’s programs,” he said in an email. When that old verbal policy was brought back into play, students thought it was a new rule.
The rule had nothing to do with gender, Joe Cardona, a spokesman for the school, said Friday. The shirt requirement also applies to men, and was intended to get NCAA student athletes in a more professional mindset, he said.
All of the confusion started one afternoon this fall. When runners went to the Glassboro track, where they practice during football season, and found it locked, so their coach moved them back to Rowan. The women started warming up while waiting for the football team to finish, Cardona said.
That crossover led to discussions about field use between coaches, and someone brought up the unrelated shirt requirement, noting the female runners had violated it.
The sudden resurgence of the rule and its enforcement led to student outcry.
“The question becomes, does the sports bra constitute as a shirt?” Cardona said. “Of course it does. The issue came up as a broader conversation about the field use.”
It was Capone’s blog, though, that brought the issue to the administration’s attention, he said.
It also struck a nerve with alumni and others who heard of the policy from her first.
“The problem here is not the women on the team,” Capone continued in the piece. “The problem is not the women wearing sports bras. The problem is not women’s bodies. Rape culture is the problem.”
She could not be reached for comment Friday morning.
Rowan will enact a formal policy protecting female athletes who wish to practice in sports bras.
“The University recognizes that while the verbal policy attempted to set standards, it could be misunderstood and does not accommodate today’s training practices across sports,” Houshmand said in his email.
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