CARBONDALE (WSIL)-- This past week was the 48th anniversary of Title IX. That’s the law that stated no person can be discriminated against because of their gender in education. Title IX is supposed to give women equal opportunities in sports. I spoke with SIU Athletic Director Liz Jarnigan and some Head Coaches about how Title IX has influenced there career.
"When I first started my career 33 plus years ago, I didn’t think being an athletic director was going to be an opportunity for me," said Jarnigan. "That is how things were for women in athletics at that time. Being where I am at now is really an achievement. It was something I wanted to do, but it was something that I wasn’t certain if I would have that opportunity."
"I am so grateful to have an opportunity to play sports," said SIU Softball Head Coach Kerri Blaylock. "If I wasn’t able to play or have an equal opportunity to play. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing and I would not have had a chance to go to college. I wouldn’t have been fortunate enough. It was a resource for me to go to college and look at now."
But even after Title IX was signed, SIU Women's Basketball Coach Cindy Stein recalls as player the constant push for equality.
"I remember our coach just having to fight the athletic department more specifically the equipment guy didn’t want to pay for bras," said Stein. "And he just didn’t understand why they need them. Even though he was paying for jocks and socks with the men, with the women he just basically wanted to give them a t shirt and shorts and that was all good. So, the stuff our coaches had to fight for in order for us to have the right uniforms and equipment and the same kind of level equipment honestly has been an ongoing battle and there are times there are still schools having to fight those things."
"There is always room for growth, I just believe that in anything you can, but how awesome is it to have a female athletic director," said Blaylock. " I believe one of probably what under 50 in the country which is pretty cool. That is something that for younger females and even kids on my team that want to go into athletics or athletics administration is really pretty cool."
As a female athletic director Jarnigan pushes for more women to get to be in positions of leadership.
"Administrative opportunities have tended to be limited over the years," said Jarnigan. "We're making progress but not nearly quick enough. I think the participation opportunities for young girls have improved and are going well now we need to address the issues of professional opportunities."
Jarnigan also says supporting women's teams financially can be a big help.
"We see in our collegiate environment that it is very easy to identify big donors to give money and support big programs specifically football and basketball programs on the men's side," said Jarnigan. "We see that to a much lesser extent – big donors giving money to support women's athletics. They are certainly there, but not yet at an equivalent rate and that would help a lot.
"It’s still a battle, but its 10 times better than it ever has been," said Stein. "It's still a battle. I can’t say that any one beyond a few elite programs feels like everything is the same. For women 10 years down the road, I hope they don’t have to deal with the differential in almost every single area that you deal with. From marketing dollars, fundraising dollars, equipment opportunities, employment, salaries all of that. I hope that we go a lot further along than where we are now."