NewsWomen's History Month


Title IX & the improvement of women’s college sports

The federal law has helped shape current programs for female athletes.
Posted at 1:33 PM, Mar 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-24 14:38:41-04

BRYAN, Texas — Just over 50 years ago the landscape of college athletics looked completely different. It wasn't until 1972 when Title IX was passed that the game was changed forever.

“For me it’s that respect piece," said Trisha Ford, head softball coach at Texas A&M University. "That’s really (what) I would say improved — and I think that both women and men have helped with that."

Since the passing of Title IX, we’ve seen exponential growth in female athletics. Over the last 25 years especially, we’re continuing to witness not only a steady rise in participation — but the proper recognition and opportunities these women deserve.

We're on TV, more," said Joni Taylor, head women's basketball coach at A&M. "I can remember again as a player in college when we had a TV game, it was a big deal. Like mom, we're gonna be on TV. Like you were nervous, you were excited. Oh my gosh, we're gonna be on ESPN. We're gonna be on ESPN2. Now every game is on TV.”

Bre Warren, a junior outfielder for Texas A&M, has noticed a shift.

“It's so crazy to see the growth of the World Series and see how many people are watching that," Warren said. "I know last year they passed a milestone about people are watching it more than the College World Series for baseball.

"And it's just like seeing that and hearing that. It's just like, wow, like we're really doing something here and we're finally getting recognized for everything that we do off the field and on the field. So I think that's really special.”

We are now seeing the next generations of women in college athletics thriving because the ones who broke down barriers and paved the way before them.

I'm really thankful for those, that kind of started before us of opening up those doors," Ford said. "I mean Jessica Mendoza doesn't happen unless, people prior to her, Beth Mowins, right kind of sets that stage."

Not only has this positively impacted women’s high school and collegiate athletic experience, but instilled confidence, leadership qualities and teamwork that they can take into the work force.

 “Kind of sets that stage how to, you know, just be a part of a team and to share and to get along with people from different environments and different walks of life to be able to then pursue a common goal," Taylor said. "And then if you're able to reach that goal and have that, you know, excellence, like what a great feeling. Those are life lessons that will never leave you."

And what the casual fan may not know is just how much time these athletes dedicate to their performance on the field and in the classroom.

"There are days, some days where I start at 8:00 a.m. and I end around maybe 2:30 p.m," basketball player Sydney Bowles said. "And then in between that time, you know, you have a couple like maybe 45 minutes in between and then you have film, you have a lift, you have weights and then you have practice and that's just part only half really of your day."

Ford added, “And they repeat that and they do that seven days a week.”

Above all of the leaps and bounds taken to take women’s college athletics to another level – on July 1, 2021, the NCAA approved the NIL policy which allowed for all Division 1, 2 and 3 athletes to be compensated for their name, image and likeness regardless of whether or not their state has an NIL law in place.

It kind of shows how the women's game is growing as well because, you know, people see faces that they're familiar with," Boweles said, "and that just kind of grows the game or people see faces that they're unfamiliar with and they're like, hey, I wanna learn more about this person. I wanna watch this person and I think that's really big in growing the women's game."

Most importantly, these coaches and athletes are role models for the future generations of women who will have even more opportunities than many former athletes could have never imagined.

“You can't dream it if you can't see it, whether it's something that you want to do or not," Taylor said. "I think being able to see it and have a choice of yes, I want to or not is what's really important and so when you turn on the TV, and you see women coaches, you know, coaching against each other and, and, and competing at a high level and being able to show their personality and their passion and their fire and not get, you know, she's angry or not, get, you know, a label being attached to it.

"It's a common thing now and, and even 10 years ago, that wasn't the case. So it's inspiring and it's motivating and, you know, I think we need to continue taking that step forward."