Friday, June 22, 2007

Celebrating Title IX

Tomorrow is the 35th anniversary of Title IX, the first federal law requiring educational institutions that receive federal funds to provide equal academic and athletic opportunities for both men and women.

In 1972, there were approximately 30,000 female student-athletes participating in sports; today, more than 170,000 NCAA female student-athletes participate in sports and nearly 3 million girls are participating in high school athletics - an increase of over 900 percent since Title IX became law. Click for more information from the NCAA News.

One of the founding principles of the NCAC was equality for women. We currently offer 22 sports: 11 for men and 11 for women. Here's an excerpt from a review of Conference history written in 2003 for the 20th Anniversary season:

The fall of 1984 launched the first playing season for the new experiment called the North Coast Athletic Conference, a new playing conference in the NCAA’s Division III.

The Conference’s new principles and goals were revolutionary in the conservative world of college athletics at the time. As we mark the NCAC’s 20th Year of operation, the Conference, with its strong commitment to equity and excellence, has been a model to change the face of college athletics at all levels in the NCAA. That leadership in the early 1980s has also trickled down and changed the face of sports programs at the high school level.

Most prominent was the NCAC’s stance, written into the preamble of its constitution, that women’s sports would have equity with men’s sports. Except for a few conferences that had just added women’s sports (like the Big Ten in 1983), the NCAC was the first to state that this was a key goal of operation. Hard to believe today, but in 1984, most every conference was setup for men’s college sports only—and then, just for football and men’s basketball. NCAC members withdrew from conferences that resisted adding women’s sports.

“Marquee sports, major and minor sports, revenue-producing sports—all were catchphrases of the early 1980s,” says Dennis Collins, the NCAC’s only Executive Director, now in his 20th season at the NCAC helm. “The environment was not only completely different than today, it was openly hostile to women’s sports and every sport other than football and men’s basketball.”

“ The results of our early positions have resulted in acceptance of women’s sports and contributed to the media coverage of all sports,” states Baird Tipson, President of Wittenberg University and the current president of the NCAC.

NCAC founders decided that women’s sports and all sports were important to their colleges and stated so in their new constitution (there are now 22 NCAC sports). As a result, the NCAC emphasized all sports, including swimming, soccer, field hockey, and volleyball, in addition to football and men’s basketball. This also was wildly revolutionary. One of the major results of these decisions was that coaching staffs had to be increased, fields and facilities expanded and the overall budgets of NCAC colleges jumped dramatically. These proactive positions were well ahead of the punitive nature of the Title IX debate, which came in the later 1980s.

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