Assistant principal reflects on athletic equality at the Mill

Title IX: four decades later

Spencer Dawson, Features co-Editor

This summer, on June 28, historical athletic figure Pat Summitt passed away from early onset dementia. During her time as a collegiate women’s basketball coach at the University of Tennessee, she had an overall record of 1,098 wins and 208 loses, 16 Southeastern Conference championships, 16 SEC Tournament championships and eight National Collegiate Athletic Association Championships. With her passing, conversation flowed in the media about her influence on women’s equality in athletics through Title IX. Her successes on the court are a reflection of progress over the last four decades as Title IX has evolved to promote equality for women in athletics.

According to the NCAA, Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 is a federal law that states: “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.”

I would like to see more girls take advantage of the opportunities presented to them through athletics.

— Athletic Director Sandy Martin

Although Pat Summitt is a name most people recognize, senior scholar Bernice Sander is actually known as “The Godmother of Title IX”. According to Women’s ENews, Sandler became passionate about women’s rights after she was turned down for a position as a professor at the University of Maryland. When she asked why, she was told “Let’s face it, you come on too strong for a woman.”

After much research, Sandler concluded no laws existed regarding the prohibition of discrimination in education based on sex. However, she did find a loophole when discovering that there were guidelines for federal contractors that prohibited discrimination in employment. Therefore, she filed a lawsuit against the university, thus beginning the journey for Title IX legislation.

The effects of the act proved beneficial to women at an athletic level. According to the New York Times, in 1971, there were approximately 310,000 females in America playing high school and collegiate sports. Now, there are more than 3,373,000 females participating in athletics at these levels.

Current athletic director, previous collegiate athlete at Cedarville University and previous head tennis and basketball coach at University of Dayton and Kenyon College, Sandy Martin, graduated high school in 1971 and saw firsthand the benefits Title IX gave women. “Women were offered greater opportunities at the collegiate level through scholarships,” Martin said.

Some believe that Title IX only applies to athletics, but this act applies to a variety of areas.  These areas include Access to Higher Education, Career Education, Education for Pregnant and Parenting Students, Employment, Learning Environment, Math and Science, Sexual Harassment, Standardized Testing and Technology.

Title IX applies to all educational institutions that receive federal funds. Almost all private colleges and universities must abide by Title IX regulations because they receive federal funding through federal financial aid programs used by their students. “I believe it is important to have equal opportunities for girls and guys to play sports, and that includes funding for new sports,” senior Angela Ricketts said.

Being on a team definitely taught me to look at what’s best for the team and what is best for others.

— senior Kelly Kozusko

At the high school level, Title IX has increased the opportunities for women to participate in athletics in their school. Specifically at the Mill, equal opportunities are provided to girls and boys for athletics. “There are a variety of opportunities for athletics in high school which leads to scholarships at the collegiate level,” Martin said. “At the end of each year, I report to the GHSA how many females and males participate in sports and how much money is spent for each program.”  

Martin would like to see an increase in girls participating in sports to promote balance in numbers and potential for more teams. “I would like to see more girls take advantage of the opportunities presented to them through athletics. The more numbers we have, the more teams we can create in the programs through freshman and JV teams,” Martin said.

The establishment of Title IX opened the doors of opportunity for women to play on a team at a high school level and beyond.  “Being on a team allows them to build themselves to be their best and learn character traits,” Martin said. “As a previous coach, I loved to see a player’s individual growth and the team’s overall growth.”  

Through the progressions of Title IX, women have gained both athletic and moral benefits by experiencing the advantages of being on a team. “Being on a team definitely taught me to look at what’s best for the team and what is best for others,” senior basketball player Kelly Kozusko said. “Team sports teach you how to get along with others and to really look at the bigger picture. It’s about the team as a whole, not just the individual players.”