The Perceived Role of Senior Women Administrators in NCAA Division I Institutions

Article excerpt


Women's intercollegiate athletics was built on the foundation of physical education programs for female students. Athletics for women was governed and administered by female physical education teachers and coaches. In the beginning, women's athletics programs were operated with an educational philosophy emphasizing participation over competition. Demand began to rise for more competitive women's athletics and a governing agency to ensure appropriate administration. This demand resulted in the creation of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW). The AIAW began forming in the late 1960s, became fully functional in 1971, and was in control of women's athletics by the summer of 1972 (Hult, 1994; Hult in Hult & Trekell, 1991).

The educational focus of the AIAW is well documented. The Association's leadership was intent on maintaining a "student-centered, education-oriented model" (Hult in Hult & Trekell, 1991). The first significant attack on this unique model of intercollegiate athletics came with the Kellmeyer case in 1973. This class action lawsuit was filed by a group of tennis players and their coaches challenging the AIAW's ban on offering athletic scholarships. The leadership within the AIAW reluctantly admitted defeat and permitted member institutions to provide athletic scholarships to female student-athletes. The Kellmeyer case is recognized as one of the Association's first steps in moving away from its original focus on education and moving toward the more commercialized model of intercollegiate athletics used by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) (Hult in Hult & Trekell, 1991; Wu, 1999, 2000).

Title IX of the Education Amendments, which passed in 1972 and banned discrimination at educational institutions that received federal funds, led to reforms that made athletic opportunities for male and female students more equitable. This new legislation brought explosive growth in participation by female athletes (Hult, 1994). Title IX introduced a new standard in that opportunities for female athletes were now being compared to opportunities for male athletes in terms of the quantity and quality of the opportunities. Women sought equitable participation opportunities as well as equitable support in scholarships, benefits, and services. As opportunities within women's sports continued to increase, the governing body for men's athletics, the NCAA, saw both an opportunity and a threat. An opportunity in that the NCAA anticipated that, with the implementation of Title IX, women's athletics was going to be significantly funded, and thus, discussion began within the NCAA to include women within the organization (Hult in Hult & Trekell, 2001). A threat in that the NCAA was concerned that the resources needed to support women's programs would be redirected from the men's programs. In an attempt to manage both situations, the NCAA made plans to offer championships for women and to eventually take over the AIAW. In 1981, women's basketball championships were offered for women by the AIAW, the NAIA, and the NCAA (Trekell & Hult, 1991). The NCAA takeover of the AIAW in 1982 eventually resulted in the consolidation of men's and women's intercollegiate athletic programs, which left many female administrators and coaches of women's programs without jobs or in secondary positions (Hult, 1994). The most devastating aspect of the demise of the AIAW was that within the AIAW, women controlled 90 percent of the programs. Within the NCAA membership, women were part of an organization where 95 percent of the voting representatives were male and knew little if anything about the philosophies of the AIAW (Grant, 1989). According to Uhlir (1987) "by 1979-1980, over 80 percent of all collegiate athletic administrations were merged, and 90 percent of the merged administrations had men at the helm. Frequently, the woman displaced was more qualified--with more experience, a higher degree, academic rank, and tenure. …


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