Female athletes stand on the field to celebrate 50th Anniversary of Title IX. The event was planned during a five-minute commercial break that caused a delay on the field. (Courtesy of South Carolina Athletics)
All USC sports will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Title IX, USC’s Athletic Director Ray Tanner said after a mishandled recognition during Saturday’s televised football game against Georgia.
A 5-minute commercial break between the first and second quarters in the middle of a crucial fourth down was meant to recognize more than 200 female student athletes. But a time crunch left the women on the field and delayed a return to play.
Title IX is a federal civil rights law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in education and sports.
University of South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer, dancers for the Carolina Girls and athletic equipment managers were unaware of the planned break. Everyone involved blamed a lack of communication between planners and people on the field.
Tanner took responsibility for the miscommunication after Beamer caught flack for yelling at the women to get off the field.
“Our intention was to celebrate and not talk about how we’re running out of time,” Tanner said on 107.5 The Game radio show. “When you miss, it’s disappointing, and we did miss. It was a miscalculation of time. It was unfortunate, and we’re disappointed about it, and the only thing we can do now is go forward with our plans to celebrate the 50th anniversary.”
Beamer wasn’t the only one who was frustrated by the female athletes struggling to get off the field after their recognition.
Everyone from the coaching staff to the marketing team was trying to get the athletes off the field, according to Sarah Sylvester, an athletics equipment manager.
Cramming all the female athletes both onto and off of the field in less than 5 minutes was a scheduling error, they said.
“It’s like cramped back there,” Sylvester said of the sidelines. “And it’s so hard to get that many people off in such a short amount of time.”
Jyllissa Harris, a fifth-year defender for the USC women’s basketball team, took to Twitter to share her discontent.
“We were on the field for maybe 15 seconds then screamed at to get off,” Harris wrote. “If you want to honor female student athletes, then do that, not this.”
Caroline Malloy, a Carolina Girls Dancer, also didn’t know that female athletes were going on at that time. Malloy knew immediately it was a “wild lack of communication.”
“I know (Beamer) respects us and all the athletes so much,” Malloy said. “I feel like he may not have been aware of really what was going on at that time.”
The game was delayed by 25 to 30 seconds. Beamer was shocked by the delay and the ability of the Georgia coaches to see the team’s formation before the next play. The delay could have resulted in a delay-of-game penalty for the home team.
“We had a critical, fourth-down decision to make on what we were going to do in that instance,” Beamer said. “My first initial reaction was to yell, ‘get off the field.’ I had no idea who was down there.”
Tanner hopes to organize better timing for the upcoming Title IX recognition ceremonies.