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Rowan University Formalizes Sports Bra Policy After Social Media Backlash

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GLASSBORO, N.J. (CBS) — Rowan University has announced that the school will establish a formal, written policy regarding sports bras after an article stirred up backlash on social media.

The Odyssey Online article, titled "A Recent Sports Bra Suspension At Rowan University Has Gotten Female Athletes Outraged," accused Rowan of both establishing and enforcing a policy that restricted women athletes from wearing sports bras without shirts during training.

It was reported that women athletes were expected to wear shirts over their sports bras as to not distract male athletes or attract unwanted attention, according to the article.

"If you're running in a sports bra, then you must be asking for it, right?" Gina Capone, the author of the article, wrote on Thursday.

University officials said the rule was only a verbal policy, but it has since been abolished.

University officials immediately addressed the issue with a Facebook post that declared the article to have misinterpreted a current verbal policy.

Student athletes were required to wear shirts during practice in accordance with NCAA guidelines, according to Rowan University spokesperson Joe Cardona. The verbal policy was meant to teach athletes that they are not in an intramural sport, but that they are an NCAA athlete with standards.

"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," university officials said. 

Capone, a former track and field runner did not interpret the policy that way and decided to write an article on Odyssey.

"Even in the elite world mostly every woman wears a racing crop and we aren't given uniforms to practice in," Capone said.

"It was just so absurd to me because I feel like every other university doesn't have this issue where it's a D1 school or D3 school. They should be able to wear anything they feel comfortable in," Capone told CBS3.

According to officials, new staff relayed the policy to students in an inaccurate manner which led to confusion. That confusion spread and turned into a fierce backlash against the university's protocol.

"As women, we are constantly reminded that we should be ashamed or embarrassed about our bodies. It's 2018, and yet women are still being objectified with their physical appearance," Capone wrote.

The article forced university officials to realize that the verbal policy was not the best way to communicate standards and have taken action to create a written policy so that future confusion on the issue of sports bras can be avoided.

"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," officials added.

The article also stated that the female cross country team was not allowed to use the same facility as the football team, but university officials say that is not true. Whichever team is using the facility at that time is the only team that should be there.

Women athletes at Rowan University will be allowed to continue to wear sports bras without shirts during practice.

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