"In the new formal policy, there will be no restriction of sports bras without shirts as practice apparel."
Rowan University received criticism from various members of the running community on Thursday night and Friday morning after an editorial was published on The Odyssey Online that cited a recent ban on female cross country runners being allowed to wear just sports bras in training.
The editorial by Gina Capone stated that a meeting was held with the women's cross country coach and athletic director that led to "women on the team no longer being able to run in sports bras" and that "women were no longer allowed to run on the track." The article did not quote any athlete by name but mentioned members of the women's cross country team had been considered "distracting" to football players.
The university issued the following statement from university president Ali A. Houshmand:
"A recently published article raised questions about the possibility of Rowan’s women athletes being restricted from wearing sports bras without shirts during training. The piece raises questions about the possibility of an inequitable protocol for women’s athletic apparel. I ensure you that the University and our Athletics program are committed to providing the most accommodating and fair environment for all of our athletes. Rowan’s Athletic Department has had a longstanding verbal protocol that all athletes must wear shirts, even during practices. The verbal policy was adopted as a matter of keeping a level of standards throughout its men's and women's programs. What led to the article and brought light to the verbal policy was a recent explanation of it to new staff, who then relayed the information to students. Having practiced all season in “sports bra” tops, many interpreted this as a new policy. Not knowing the verbal policy existed and just becoming aware of it, Rowan’s administration has met with the Athletics Department and promises immediately to develop a written policy that allows women athletes to wear sports-bra tops without shirts during practices. Rowan Athletics will continue to follow NCAA guidelines for uniforms during competition. In the new formal policy, there will be no restriction of sports bras without shirts as practice apparel. 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. We recognize this may stir debate within the University community and beyond. By clarifying our support of women’s athletics and its student-athletes, Rowan strongly affirms its commitment to ensuring that women are able to train and perform at the highest levels."
The statement does not state whether the athletes would be allowed back on the track facility.