Randy Smith: 50 Years After Title IX

Friday, June 24, 2022 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith
On June 23rd, 1972 Title IX was signed into law to provide equity for men's and women's athletics. Fifty years later, while a lot of progress has been made, there is still a huge gap between spending amounts for men and women. In other words, Title IX has been very successful in creating opportunities but has fallen short in providing funding....tremendously short. For instance pay for women coaches at the NCAA level is still lagging far behind the men. In addition, there are still more men coaching women's basketball than women.

The gender gap in funding is now 3-1, and that includes salaries. There is a greater number of women playing at the collegiate and high school levels than there was forty years ago.
Back then the participation rate was 26%, while now better than 47% of opportunities are taken by women.

What is this telling us you ask? It tells us there is still a long way to go. In athletics just like the business world, pay for women is still not where it needs to be. Men working the same job are still making more money than a woman doing the exact same thing and I'm not sure that will ever change.

In Knoxville, Kellie Harper makes one million dollars a year coaching the Lady Vols basketball team, while her male counterpart, Rick Barnes will earn $5.45 million next season making him the highest paid state employee in Tennessee. That's a huge difference and while Barnes has more experience than Harper and has built a reputation as one of the best coaches in America, Harper should be paid quite a bit more money.

Bill Self of Kansas makes more than $10 million annually topping the men's list, while the highest paid women's coach is a tie between UConn's Geno Auriemma and South Carolina's Dawn Staley. They each make more than $2.5 million a year and that says a lot for South Carolina. A state that has a rich history of racism is now paying an African-American woman enough money to put her at the top of her profession.

It seems that the biggest problem in terms of Title IX is enforcement and that falls directly at the feet of the NCAA. College sports governing body has turned its back on rules violations for some time, leaving a lot of schools with gender equity problems. In fact, I'm not sure what the NCAA has done right about anything recently. 

Several years ago Tennessee athletic director Doug Dickey was in a meeting with other athletic department officials, discussing the purchase of new video equipment for the men's basketball team. One of his assistants said, " The equipment the men are using now is only a couple of years old, so we can give that to the women." Coach Dickey replied, " Are you out of your (bleeping) mind? Obviously he was referring to the reaction from Lady Vols' Coach Pat Summitt if her team received used equipment. College sports needs more Doug Dickeys.  

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Randy Smith can be reached at rsmithsports@epbfi.com

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