What Title IX Has Done for Women’s Sports at Pennsylvania’s Largest University—And What Remains to Be Done

What impact has Title IX had for women’s sports at Penn State University?

“I remember women’s teams like lacrosse didn’t even have their own uniforms. They would share with other teams,” [former women’s basketball coach] Domitrovitz said. “The only thing female athletes got was a voucher for a single pair of tennis shoes downtown. Basically, things weren’t satisfied until Title IX.”

Domitrovitz, along with other former women’s sports coaches discussed the effects of Title IX and how far the nation still has to go in ensuring equality for male and female athletes at an event held at Penn State last week.

According to the Women’s Law Project’s 2005 study [PDF] of athletic opportunities for women at the collegiate level in Pennsylvania, Penn State did a pretty good job when it came to gender equity in the athletic department. From that report:

Penn State’s equitable numbers for its main campus, along with the school president’s statements endorsing Title IX’s application to his school, demonstrate that a school with a nationally-prominent and competitive football team can, with a commitment to Title IX, provide equitable athletic opportunities to its female students.

But there is still work to be done. The 2005 report showed that there were 8,000 missing athletic opportunities for women in colleges and universities throughout Pennsylvania, and the need to continue pressing for gender equity in athletics can be seen in the Women’s Law Project’s litigation efforts at Slippery Rock University and Delaware State University.

In the end, it comes down to equality:

“It’s surprising to me how long it’s taken. We still aren’t there,” [former rifle team coach] Harpster said. “Eighty percent of schools today, even with Title IX, do not follow it to the ‘t.’ ”

Penn State Assistant Athletic Director Sue Scheetz agreed. She said there are still roads to travel and progress to be made.

“Forty-five percent of all college athletes are women, but they only receive 37 percent of scholarship funds,” [moderator Jackie] Esposito said.

While all the women said they were happy with the progress made under the act, Harpster lamented its necessity.

“Imagine, if everyone did it how it should be done, what we could be doing right now,” she said. “It should be automatic. We shouldn’t even need a Title IX.”

About womenslawproject

The Women's Law Project creates a more just and equitable society by advancing the rights and status of all women throughout their lives. To this end, we engage in high-impact litigation, advocacy, and education.
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