Introduction to Title IX at Madison College: 1972-1979

Action shots from the 1975 Madison College Women's Basketball team.

Action shots from the 1975 Madison College Women’s Basketball team. (Bluestone, 320)

        Since its inception, Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 has provided millions of women with the opportunity to engage in sports at the high school and collegiate levels. Title IX was designed to clear up the loopholes in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which did not include educational institutions (Ware, 3). The law got off to a slow start with little enforcement, but by 1979 the Department of Health, Education, And Welfare (HEW) had finalized guidelines with the standards in which all schools must comply (Ware, 4).

Before Title IX there were big discrepancies in both funding and views of sports between the genders. Men’s sports were governed by the NCAA and seen as moneymaking institutions which would bring the individual schools more money and more notoriety. Because of these expectations, most schools provided more funding for men’s sports programs than women’s. However, women began to fight back and gained recognition by forming their own leagues and putting on their own national championships. The gained notoriety was soon recognized by the NCAA and both men’s and women’s sports were eventually joined under the NCAA with equal funding for both men’s and women’s sports.

James Madison University, which was called Madison College in 1972, has had connections with Title IX since the law’s inception and the ramifications are still affecting student athletes even today. The school was a pioneer in women’s sports, with some faculty having connections to women’s sports on the national scene. The most direct and influential connection was Dr. Lonnie Leotus “Lee” Morrison. Morrison was a field hockey coach and eventually became the associate athletic director at Madison College (Coughlin, 1). She was instrumental in the creation and organization of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW), the governing body of women’s sports before its merger with the NCAA (Coughlin, 1). Madison College female athletes, such as All-American women’s basketball star Katherine Johnson, have also reflected that they had positive experiences as student athletes, even before the college officially had to comply with all of the regulations.

Since the passage of Title IX, James Madison University has boasted strong women’s athletic teams, most notably the women’s basketball team (shown above in 1975, just after the passage of Title IX) (The Bluestone, 320). Through Title IX and figures like Morrison, women today are at an all-time high in participation with sports, with over 2.8 million girls playing high school sports and over 150,000 participating in collegiate sports (Ware, 1). Even with these high numbers of female athletic participants, the numbers are rising higher each year because of the influence of Title IX.

The purpose of this exhibit is to show the implications of Title IX both nationwide and at Madison College/ James Madison University. The posts go in a linear order which documents a brief history of women’s sports before Title IX and the efforts by many to provide equality in sport for both men and women. As stated before, Madison College had national connections to Title IX nationwide through Dr. Morrison, but the campus itself was an early leader in sport equality, as shown through intramurals and how the varsity athletic teams conducted themselves with one another.  Overall, Title IX has been instrumental for women’s sports and a progressive act for gender equality.

 

Works Cited:

Coughlin, Sean. “Morrison a Pioneer for Female Sports.” Savannah Morning News, May 2, 2008, 1.

The Bluestone. Harrisonburg: James Madison University, 1975.

Ware, Susan. Title IX: A Brief History with Documents. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin’s, 2007.