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Celebrating 40 Years of Title IX
Courtesy: George Mason Athletics
Release: 02/01/2012

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In celebration of the 40th birthday of Title IX, George Mason University Intercollegiate Athletics will take a look at the historic federal civil rights law that was passed by Congress on June 23, 1972. Through the voices and experience of Mason's own Faculty, Staff and student-athletes, GoMason.com will take a look at the impact it has had on women's college athletics.

Since the passing of Title IX, women have been granted an equal opportunity to participate in high school and college sports.Title IX has been one of the major catalysts that have changed the world of women's college sports and became the gateway for change in the world of sports for women. 

Please join Mason Athletics throughout the spring semester with the voices and stories of those whose lives have been affected with the passing of Title IX.  

For more information on Title IX, please visit the links provided below.

Title IX, Education Amendments of 1972
(Title 20 U.S.C. Sections 1681-1688)

Title IX Quick Facts

 


In the first installment in celebrating Title IX, Senior Associate AD, Student Services Sue Collins discusses the legislation and how it has impacted the realm of sports both professionally and personally.

Can you give a brief synopsis of what Title IX?
Title IX is a federal law that was enacted in 1972, and what it does is provide equal opportunities for both boys and girls, men and women in intercollegiate athletics and other things - but specifically from our point of interest for intercollegiate athletics.

What is the background of Title IX?
There was more than half of the population of the United States (women) that did not have the opportunity to participate in any kind of sports.  When I grew up, I had no opportunity to participate in anything in grade school, in high school, a little bit in college, but it was more a play day of opportunity.  I would have loved to have had the opportunity to participate in high school, representing my school or in college representing my school.  The rationale really was to give opportunities for women in a lot of areas, reaching even outside intercollegiate athletics so that women could be lawyers, women could be engineers, women would even think about doing things like that.  So Title IX was really about opportunity, and the opportunities were not there, and when you think about it, if I'm a mother, why would I want opportunities just for my son and not for my daughter?  I would want opportunities for both of them because not only do you have fun playing, but there are so many valuable things that you can use for within your life.  There are life skills that are learned from participating in sports and being on a team.

How have you seen collegiate sports change since the passing of the law?
Well interestingly enough when it was passed, the next year I became the head women's volleyball coach at Ohio State University.  When I was hired in 1973, remember the law was passed in 1972, we did not have athletic scholarships, and we didn't even have athletic scholarships until the fall of 1976, four years later.  And interestingly enough, I had the honor, once the university decided to give athletic scholarships, to award the very first scholarship to a woman volleyball player at Ohio State University in 1976.  So even at Ohio State, a school that had so much money, they disregarded the federal law for four years.  When I left there in 1980, I still did not have all the scholarships that the rules allowed.

What sports have you seen the most growth in because of the law?
Every single sport you can think of has had tremendous growth.  Even men sports have grown, but the number of young women participating is just phenomenal now.  And they expect to play now.  Girls and young women, expect to have opportunities to play.  They don't really know about what went on before their time.  Most of their mothers didn't play, well maybe their mothers nowadays would have played, but it's just an amazing thing.

How do you see collegiate sports changing in the future with the law?
In the future, it's really important that we watch and pay very strict attention to make sure that Title IX remains on the books.  There are always questions about how come the men are losing out on opportunities, and that comes up when a school looks at the sports that they offer, and they decide on the men's side that they want to add more opportunities in one sport (football), over having 20 less people in football and having a men's swimming program.  So, you hear a lot about men's swimming teams being dropped, you hear a lot about wrestling programs being dropped, so that schools who started out with all men's teams and gradually started adding women's teams, there are two really different ways to comply with Title IX, and those ways are:  to add women's programs, which means women's opportunities, or to bring the number of men's programs down. 

The way the law is written at this time, each individual institution has to look at their undergraduate, full-time student enrollment, men and women.  So at George Mason, the population is 55 percent women and 45 percent men, it's been that way for years, and that's just full-time undergraduates.  The law says that the student-athlete population then here at George Mason should be 55 percent women and 45 percent men.  We work very hard to make sure that's what it looks like.  That's what the law asks us to do and the number one principle of Title IX is opportunities.  Participation, opportunities.  Me and you.  We're each have an opportunity to participate in sports.  I always wanted to play.  So a dinosaur like me has fought so that young women and young men have the opportunity.  That's one really good thing about George Mason University, we continue to strive to make sure there are opportunities for men and women.

How did the law impact you personally?
Opportunities for others more than for myself.  I've been thrilled to see universities and high schools have really increased opportunities for men and women.  It's great to see women coaching and men coaching. It's wonderful to see the teams, the quality of athletes out there now, it's just phenomenal, the talent is phenomenal.  Look at the Olympic teams, men's and women's.  There's a lot of talent that's been there for years.  It's like looking at this poster I have here on my wall that talks about the NCAA.  In 2006, the NCAA celebrated its 100th birthday.  That same year, women in the NCAA celebrated their 25thanniversary.  So women are 25 years behind in opportunities and in evolving into being what we're going to be, but we've taken giant steps to opportunities and the result of those opportunities, it's really a great thing.

 


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