Mary Hill on Leveling the Playing Field for Women in Sports
My first job after graduate school was at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. This was the first year of Title IX (1972 Equal Opportunity in Education), so many colleges were finally giving women the title of Women’s Athletic Director. At this time, the women’s program was in the Department of Physical Education and reported to the Department Chair. The men’s program, on the other hand, was in the Department of Athletics and reported to the President of the University. At that time, the Athletic Department could hire male coaches and give them the title “coach” and equivalent pay. The Physical Education Department could hire teachers that would also coach, but the pay would be for teaching, not coaching.
In my case, I was hired as a Physical Education Instructor that would not have the position if I could not have coached Track and Field. Since this was the first year of Title IX, I also carried simultaneously the titles of Director of Women’s Athletics, Director of Women’s Intramurals, Coach Women’s Track and Field, and Physical Education Instructor. Conversely, in the Department of Athletics, not only was the Athletic Director a full time position, but both the Director of Men’s Intramurals and the men’s Track and Field Coach were full time positions.
The funding for the men’s Athletic Department was $3 Million, while the funding for the women’s program was only $5,500, yet both were members of the Rocky Mountain Conference. The women’s athletics had to pay for uniforms and food as well as travel by university van, and coaches sometimes drove all night because there was no money for motels. In addition to all this inequality, there were no athletic scholarships for women.
Training and event facilities for women and men were also quite different. The women were given the old gymnasium and some outdoor facilities, while the men had the new gymnasium and additional outdoor facilities which included an all-weather track, a weight room, and athletic trainers that the women were not allowed to use. While I was Track and Field coach,not only did we have three seasons to train and compete, but also cross-country, indoor and outdoor sports, and we had 36 events during my last year there. It ended up being my personal responsibility to raise money for the team to even get to the National Championships. My graduate work was at Texas Woman University where I was Assistant Track and Field Coach. It was clear that this picture was not right: the women’s athletics departments across the US were definitely not being treated fairly. I made it my job to do something about it.
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