Marianne Stanley believes gender equity in college athletics still has a ways to go.
“It’s like having a family where the boys eat steak and the girls get hot dogs. It’s not fair,” said the former USC women’s basketball coach, who was never content just sitting at the dinner table.
Stanley was fired from her USC job three years ago after filing a suit against the university demanding to be paid as much as George Raveling, who was coaching the Trojans men.
For at least the rest of this season, Stanley is at Stanford, sharing coaching duties with Amy Tucker while Cardinal head coach Tara VanDerveer takes the year off to coach the U.S. Women’s Olympic basketball team.
The No. 4 Cardinal will be in Pullman tonight to take on Washington State at Friel Court at 7.
As for Stanley, 41, she is just happy to have the opportunity to be on the sideline again.
She has participated in 10 Final Fours as a player and coach, and has a 351-146 coaching record in 16 seasons at Old Dominion, Pennsylvania and USC.
She won three national titles at Old Dominion and went 71-46 in four years at USC, leading the Trojans to the NCAA quarterfinals in 1992.
Her career came to an abrupt halt when she began pushing USC to pay her just as much as Raveling.
“I did it because it was a matter of principle, a matter of following the law,” she explained.
Stanley’s case was dismissed by U.S. Federal Court Judge John Davies in California’s Central District Federal Court almost a year ago.
In his decision to throw out the case, Davies wrote: “The women’s head basketball coach is not under as much pressure as the men’s coach, and there is not as much interest in women’s basketball as in men’s.”
Davies’ decision was appealed by Stanley and her attorney, Robert Bell. Opening hearings recently began in the Ninth U.S. District Court in San Francisco.
Because of a protective order issued by the court, Raveling’s salary and Stanley’s salary at the time Stanley was removed cannot be revealed.
Bell, however, did call the disparity in pay “shocking.”
USC officials would not comment on the case.
Davies’ conclusion that women’s basketball is not as popular as men’s is a sentiment often expressed during gender equity discussions.
But Stanley believes if athletic departments spent as much money marketing and promoting women’s programs as they do men’s, it would increase the interest in women’s athletics
“Where a university puts its resources, those departments tend to flourish,” she said. “Look at the University of Washington. They do an excellent job of promoting women’s basketball as much as men’s basketball.”
The Huskies, a perennial national power on the women’s scene, have a season-ticket base of nearly 3,000 fans. No other Division I women’s program playing within the city limits of a top-20 population center can make that claim.
Last year, the Husky women averaged 4,515 per home game compared to 5,204 for the men’s team. Last year was actually the first year since 1986 that the men outdrew the women.
“Visibility and image is a significant part of the package,” Stanley said. “Without it, people don’t know what you are, or that you exist at all.
“Our male counterparts have gotten cozy and comfortable and they don’t see that as being a big part of getting a head start at a program.”
As far as coaching salaries are concerned, UW women’s basketball coach Chris Gobrecht and men’s basketball coach Bob Bender each earn an annual salary of $114,408.
By comparison, the $114,440 annual base salary of Washington State men’s coach Kevin Eastman is much greater than the $72,000 pulled down by Cougars women’s coach Harold Rhodes.
At Eastern Washington, men’s basketball coach Steve Aggers and women’s basketball coach Heidi VanDerveer each earn $62,400 per year.
At USC, Stanley’s teams won 60 percent of their games in four seasons while Raveling’s teams won 49 percent of theirs (115-118) in his eight seasons.
On April 20, 1993, Stanley said she met with USC athletic director Mike Garrett about being paid as much as Raveling.
“At that meeting, he (Garrett) agreed that I was entitled to equal pay,” Stanley said. “A week later, I received a letter that did not reflect the agreement of the meeting. From that point on, he just backtracked.”
Since taking legal action against USC, Stanley has found job opportunities scarce.
Before getting back on the sidelines at Stanford, she worked as the promotions director for the Cardinal women’s basketball team. She also held part-time jobs as a furniture refinisher and bookstore clerk.
She has applied for close to 30 coaching jobs at Division I, II and III schools for men’s and women’s programs. She was invited to only one interview and didn’t get the job.
And after Raveling resigned from USC, she even applied for that position. Raveling’s replacement, Charlie Parker, was fired as USC’s men’s head coach last month.
“I have no regrets standing up for what I know is right,” Stanley said. “Nothing changes without a struggle. It didn’t make it easy, to make the decision I made. But these are important issues, to be treated equitably, honoring commitments, being able to stand in the world as an equal person to anybody else and not to be treated less than anyone else because of your race, your creed, your gender, your anything.”
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