AP Was There: Pre-Title IX ‘Dark Ages’ for Women Athetes


FILE - Competitors head to the start line of the Collegiate Women's Eights at the Head of the Charles Regatta in Cambridge, Mass., Sunday, October 22, 2006. This month marks the 50th anniversary of Title IX law which requires equitable treatment of men and women in educational programs that receive federal assistance.  (AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki, File)

FILE – Competitors head to the start line of the Collegiate Women’s Eights at the Head of the Charles Regatta in Cambridge, Mass., Sunday, October 22, 2006. This month marks the 50th anniversary of Title IX law which requires equitable treatment of men and women in educational programs that receive federal assistance. (AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki, File)


In 1974, colleges and universities across the United States began to measure the full impact of Title IX, the landmark 1972 law that called for equal treatment of men and women in programs receiving federal funding.

The ripple effects have been particularly felt in college athletics, where men’s sports have long received the lion’s share of attention, funding and support. There was obvious resistance among athletic directors to broach the subject of women’s sports and The Associated Press put together a five-part series examining the details.

Below is a story of this series as it appeared in the Press and Sun-Bulletin of Binghamton, New York, November 13, 1974.


EDITOR’S NOTE – It will come as no surprise that female college athletes across the country don’t get the same treatment as their male counterparts. But they might soon because a law called Title IX states that universities must provide equal athletic opportunities to both genders. Here’s a report on what it was like to be a female athlete before Title IX.


AP Sports Editor

The typical athletic director in a typical college athletic department is not an enemy of women. On his desk, next to all the trophies, is a family portrait showing his wife, and maybe a daughter or two.

Outside his carpeted office, there is another smiling woman serving him coffee, opening his mail and typing his letters. He will say he is all for women.

But, in many cases, his sports budget won’t reflect that.

“I don’t understand what’s going on in the minds of these athletic directors,” says Dan Bakinowski, who coached Boston University‘s women’s team to two national championships for free last summer. “They feel that female athletes are going to go away. If they think that, then they are only fooling themselves.

“Women’s athletics is not a fad. There are simply too many. They have so much enthusiasm and it’s not going to stop. ADs better find out.

And if colleges are to continue to receive their federal aid checks in various areas, some athletic departments are going to have to change direction as the long arm of the law is poised to help women’s sports.

With Title IX of the Education Act of 1972, which prohibits discrimination in any college curriculum, about to be fully implemented, opportunities are opening up for women’s athletics on many campuses, prompting Anne Findlay Chamberlain, a freshman fellow at Penn State, to say:

“Before, we had to wear skirts and nylons for a game. But that whole era has changed now and we don’t have to be embarrassed to be female athletes anymore, even though I never was.

The past is not so encouraging for women. That era was the dark ages of women’s sports — an era that still exists today on some campuses — where the men had all the cake and the women were lucky if they got a few crumbs.

Boston University’s women’s team won two national championships last summer, and they did it without a penny from that school’s athletic department, which gave the men’s team $35,000 and two full-time coaches last year.

“We trained at 6am so as not to interfere with the men’s team, and also because our volunteer coach (Bakinowski) worked from 9am to 5pm,” recalls Betsy Hochberg, a member of the team.

“To compete,” says Hochberg, “we had to borrow boats from other schools. We raised funds with bake sales, raffles and car washes. We even resorted to a rowing marathon. We set up a pool in front of the student union and rowed in two-hour shifts, 24 hours a day for an entire week. People came by and threw change into the pool.

“It was like begging. But the money had to be collected somehow. BU wasn’t going to give it to us…the crew is pretty demanding in the best of conditions, but training at six in the morning with flashlights, when ice forms on the oarlocks and you can’t see two feet in front of you, well, it’s almost unbearable.

Almost. Despite all these problems, the team still managed to qualify for the Nationals in Oakland, California, causing a new set of problems – transportation and accommodation for them and their boats.

They borrowed a boat from Radcliffe and ironically ended up beating Radcliffe in the final. They paid for their own trip to California, a cost of $1,000 per woman. And they rented the boat trailer owned by the BU men’s team for five cents a mile, or a cost of about $300 for the 6,000 mile round trip.

“If we had been men,” Hochberg says, “the athletic department wouldn’t have been able to do enough for us.”

Many athletic departments have acknowledged the existence of women and, of course, athletics, but not the two together.

In Ohio State, women received $40,000 last year out of a whopping $6 million sports budget. This year, the women’s ante was raised to $83,000.

“More than four girls per room. No more unheated cars half-freezing our girls,” says Phyllis Bailey, manager of 11 women’s intercollegiate athletics at Ohio State. We drove two tough days at a Big Ten swim meet in Minneapolis last year and two tough days back. The men’s team flew. We just didn’t have the funds.

At Texas A&M, women have 10 sports and a total budget of $200.

Most schools have run women’s athletics “under a different philosophy than the men’s programs,” says John E. Shay, vice president of student affairs at the University of Rhode Island.

“Men’s sports have full-time coaches in most major sports or are freed from regular teaching duties to undertake training,” Shay says. “The women coached women’s sports as an overload, in addition to their other duties on campus.”

Title IX is designed to eventually create an identical sporting ethos for both genders, but it won’t erase bad memories.

Gwen Gregory, the HEW (Department of Health, Education, and Welfare) official who is currently working on the final Title IX implementing regulations, tells the following story:

“A women’s track team in Illinois set up a meet a year in advance and invited colleges from across the region. The week before the meet, the men’s track coach called and said he was sorry, but the guys wanted extra practice on the day of the meet. The meeting was cancelled. »

Nancy Scannel, a reporter for the Washington Post, said that at Texas A&M, Dennis Fosdick, coach of the women’s swim team, paid $2,200 of his own money to take his team to nationals, while the week before college had paid for the men’s team to travel to their national championships.

A businessman whose daughter plays on Maryland’s basketball, volleyball and track teams has filed a Title IX lawsuit against the school. Carl Croydor says the school’s men’s basketball team flew to the University of Virginia — a three-hour bus ride. But “at the height of the energy crisis last December, the university asked the women’s basketball team to travel to Rochester – an eight-hour drive – to compete in the Eastern Regional Championships.

“The girls weren’t sure if they would be able to find enough gas to come back,” Croydor said.

Bakinowski says he stopped getting up at 5:30 a.m. to coach the BU team because “college didn’t do anything for us…the athletic department just has a bunch of distorted values.” They just don’t see the injustice when men get free rides and women have to go out and sell coffee.


AP Corporate Archives contributed to this report.


For more on the impact of Title IX, read AP’s full report: https://apnews.com/hub/title-ix Video timeline: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v= NdgNI6BZpw0


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