BROCKTON ENTERPRISE: Title IX - 40 Years Later

By Glen Farley
Brockton Enterprise

Nicole Eisenamnn, a rising senior on
the softball team, is asked about Title
IX in the third part of this series.

Buoyed by Title IX, women’s college sports have come a long way 

First in a three-part series

BROCKTON — It conjures memories of the sales slogan employed by Virginia Slims during that era.

“You’ve come a long way, baby.”

With a stroke of President Richard Nixon’s pen, women’s college athletics forever changed on June 23, 1972.

“I have two sons,” Bridgewater State University athletic director John Harper said, “and one of them (Jonathan, commissioner of the Little East Conference) has a daughter (10-year-old Skyler, twins with brother, Clayton) who’s playing in an instructional baseball league in Swansea. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a girl and not have the opportunities that are out there now. But 30, 40 years ago, you didn’t know what you didn’t know.”

Signed into law 40 years ago on Saturday, Title IX of the Education Amendment Act states that, “No person in the United State 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.’’

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported earlier this year that nearly 200,000 female athletes will compete on 9,274 NCAA teams in 2012. Compare that to the 31,852 female athletes who participated in 1972.

“It really is amazing,” Stonehill College vice president for intercollegiate athletics Paula Sullivan said, “and I think without Title IX that would not have happened.

“It certainly was the impetus behind promoting athletics for girls and women and it did a lot more, too, in all of education for women. It’s just not an athletic piece, but it’s true to form that these high school girls who participate in athletics usually are better students. It keeps them away from drugs and alcohol. It keeps them fit. There are less teenage pregnancies.

“There are a lot of studies that show what sports do, never mind give (women) a skill set where they have a little more self-confidence. They’re able to work in a team environment that will benefit them later in life and (it helps with) time management and all of those good things.”

With a Hall of Fame playing career at Bridgewater State ending in 1971 and a women’s basketball coaching career at Stonehill that led to her induction into that college’s Hall of Fame beginning later that same year, Sullivan has lived athletic lives before and after Title IX.

A Bridgewater State (Class of ’76) Hall of Famer herself, Bentley University Hall of Famer Barbara Stevens recalls the era when Title IX was implemented.