Mary Alice Hill, Sports Pioneer: Firsts Accomplishments as a Woman in College Athletics
- Mary A. Hill was given the title “Director of Women’s Athletics” at Colorado State University in 1972. The first year for the implementation of Title IX – requiring equal rights for women in sports. This is the first time in US history that women were given this title because of Title IX.
- Under Ms. Hill’s team leadership and due to Title IX, for the first time in US history, women were awarded Athletic Scholarships at Colorado State University in 1973. A monumental achievement that would forever alter the future of women in collegiate sports.
- Ms. Hill filed and won a Title IX sex discrimination lawsuit against Colorado State University. This was a landmark case that set new standards for women throughout the United States. To this day, compliance officers review campuses to make sure campuses are in compliance with Title IX.
- Under Ms. Hill’s direction, the first Athletic Scholarships for women were presented in 1976 at San Diego State University. The future for women in sports would never be the same.
- Ms. Hill is the first female in US history to be appointed Associate Athletic Director for both Men and Women a Division 1A University at San Diego State University in 1978.
- Ms. Hill initiated a meeting with Walter Byers, Executive Director of the NCAA, National Collegiate Athletic Association, in 1980, to encourage the NCAA to offer opportunities to women in their 75 year male- dominated organization. Her historic meeting was successful and the NCAA would go on to include women.
- In large part because of Ms. Hill’s undying determination, the NCAA membership voted to bring women into the organization in 1981. The first Championships were held in 1982, which opened the door for women to finally have scholarships like their male colleagues. Events for women were televised for the first time ever under the guidance of the NCAA. In 1982, women in the United States began to have same opportunities as the men have had for 75 years, since 1907.
- Ms. Hill authored a Gender Equity Policy Procedures Manual at San Diego State University for the Men’s and Women’s Athletic Department. This single original manual ended up serving as a guide for many national colleges and Universities – as Women’s Athletics were merged with the Men’s Athletic Departments.
- In 1982, Ms. Hill developed a Drug and Alcohol Education Program with the assistance of the McDonald Center. This was introduced as a pilot program for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to Colleges and Universities.
- In 1983 developed a Drug and Alcohol Testing Program with the assistance of the McDonald Center (Substance Abuse Treatment Program). This was introduced as a pilot program for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to Colleges and Universities across the nation.
- In 1983, Ms. Hill was nominated from the floor of the National Collegiate Athletic Association for the position of (NCAA) Council Member and won. This had never happened before and has not happened since. This was the first year that women had equal representation in this 75-year-old organization.
- Ms. Hill approved – for the first time salary increases that would provide equal pay for the Coaches of the Women’s Athletic Program at San Diego State University.
- Ms. Hill was appointed Director of Athletics for Men and Women at San Diego State University – a Division 1A NCAA University. This would be 10 years prior to any other woman being appointed Director of Athletics at a Division 1A NCAA Institution.
- Ms. Hill served as President of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) men’s conference. This was the first time a woman Athletic Director ever represented a member school within the WAC. Ms. Hill proudly served as President of this all-male Conference.
- Ms. Hill was appointed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association to serve as Chairperson for the Women’s Track and Field Committee to assist in the merger of the Men’s and Women’s Track and Field Programs. Ironically, the first meeting for the combined committee was held at the Playboy Resort in Wisconsin.
- Another important first is that in 1985 Ms. Hill was the first woman to ever be fired as Director of Athletics at San Diego State University. Sadly, never again to be in Collegiate athletics.
- After a career re-orientation in 1990, Ms. Hill was appointed Director, Recreation Division, Marine Corp Base, Camp Pendleton. She is the first woman and first civilian to ever serve in this position. She tells the story that when she got the job during her interview, her superior responded to concerned colleagues that “When Jesus Christ walks in the door for a job, you don’t say no.”
- Ms. Hill founded “Operation Desert Shield – Support Walk” in 1992 to support our military families. The introduction of this historic walk was at a Padres Baseball game in San Diego.
Quotes received by Danielle Stavely for her project
“Mary Alice Hill is one of the female pioneers that helped open opportunities for women to be a part of intercollegiate athletics. Through her courage, leadership, and determination she helped open doors so that those following her would have an opportunity to be sport administrators at the highest level. The role of women in athletic administration has improved – – but we still have a lot of steps that need to be taken to guarantee that women have an equal opportunity to compete in this field. I am grateful to women like Mary Alice and will strive to help continue to lay the groundwork that she initiated for upcoming young women to have success in this profession.”
Lynn Hickey, Athletic Director, University of Texas, San Antonio
“I am grateful for her leadership and courage to become the first and will work hard every day to continue her legacy. Having the chance to serve our student-athletes and lead in a male dominated field in an honor and privilege.”
Heather Lyke, Athletic Director, Eastern Michigan University
“I don’t know Mary Alice Hill personally, but I respect the challenge she accepted in becoming the first Division 1 female to serve as permanent director of Athletics. It must have been incredibly difficult. As the only woman to be named President of the Division 1 Athletics Directors Association, I am pulling for other women to serve there as well.”
Deborah Yow, Athletic Director, North Carolina State University