Title IX at 50

In June 1972, President Richard M. Nixon made Title IX law when he signed the Education Amendments Act, which included the measure:

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

According to the NCAA, female and male athletes must “receive athletic scholarship dollars proportional to their representation,” and they must receive equal treatment with regard to equipment, facilities, scheduling, coaching, promotions, access to tutoring and medical, training, housing and dining facilities and services.

Title IX’s impact has been dramatic: According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, the number of additional sport opportunities for girls compared to before Title IX is 3 million. In collegiate athletics, women make up 44% of all NCAA athletes, compared to 15% prior to Title IX. Also, it is difficult to imagine the success of U.S. women’s athletics teams apart from the accumulated impact of several decades of progress, as more and more athletic opportunities become available for girls and women. In 1996, for example, four U.S. women’s teams — basketball, gymnastics, softball and volleyball — won gold medals at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

Although progress has been made for women college athletes, disparities still exist in other areas of support. According to a recent NCAA report, spending on men’s athletic programs is greater proportionally than that for women. While Title IX does not require equality in dollars spent, in Division 1 athletics the gap is 23%. In addition, opportunities for women in leadership positions — conference commissioners, athletic directors, head coaches — is an area in need of redress.

We asked several women with experience in women’s athletics at LMU to offer their thoughts about the impact of Title IX on them and women’s sports. Here are their testimonies.

I cannot help but feel a bit envious of the opportunities and experiences provided to our female student athletes and hope these women appreciate the history behind the Title IX legislation that allowed the privileges they now have. I also hope that NCAA administration appreciates and celebrates the achievements that our women athletes have made on the international stage — many of whom would probably not be there but for the opportunities provided by collegiate athletics.—Bonnie Adair, Head Coach, Women’s Swimming

The biggest impact of Title IX for LMU Athletics was the addition of two women’s sports, water polo and beach volleyball, which provided over 40 more participation opportunities for women. Furthermore, athletic scholarship increases and facility improvements for women’s sports have directly contributed to the athletic success achieved by our women student-athletes.—Maria Behm, Senior Associate Athletics Director

To say Title IX was transformative in America and at LMU is to truly understate its incredible significance. The gap between men and women’s athletics programs pre-Title IX was cavernous. It is amazing how 37 words in a piece of 1972 education legislation have changed the lives of millions of girls for the better, not only athletically but virtually in every way. Reaching equality has been a 50-year marathon. And while the goal of equality is getting closer, there is still a ways to go.—Lane Bove, Former Senior Vice President for Student Affairs

The expansion of women’s participation and prowess in sports that Title IX
has fostered inspires young women like my daughter Kate to play competitive sports beyond high school, and also encourages young men like my son Fletcher to appreciate the power, greatness and equality of women athletes.—Tracy (Holman) Duffey, Women’s Volleyball and member, LMU Athletics Hall of Fame, 1994–97

Title IX gave me the opportunity to pursue my goals at my dream school. Without it, I never would’ve stepped foot on LMU’s campus. We’ve come a long way in 50 years, and I hope that the female athletes of the future can continue to compete and get the education that they’ve worked hard for and earned. —Sam Fischer, Softball and member, LMU Athletics Hall of Fame, 2009–12

Title IX is a monumental piece of legislation that will have a lasting impact on generations to come. I am forever grateful for the women and men who have fought tirelessly to expand Title IX and the impact it will continue to have in education and women in sport.—Aarika Hughes, Head Coach, Women’s Basketball

As a tennis player, one has to mention Billie Jean King for her impact on Title IX and women’s sports. Title IX allowed Coach Jamie Sanchez to recruit me from the local park. I’m grateful to be the first female to get an athletic scholarship at LMU.—Lynn Scott, Women’s Tennis and member, LMU  Athletics Hall of Fame, 1975–77

Title IX is something that started with my elementary school’s 5th-6th grade flag football team. I was excited to play, only to find out it was only offered for boys. I marched right to the PE teacher and principal and asked, “Why can’t girls play? I can run faster than most boys and catch and throw a football! If I try out and make the team, I should be able to play.” Long story short, I was one of two girls on the team. Elementary school gave me an opportunity to play a sport I enjoyed. Title IX gave me the opportunity to receive an education and run at the national level.—Tara (Erdmann) Welling, Track and Field, LMU Athletics Hall of Fame, 2007–12