Charlotte West is professor emerita and former associate director of athletics at Southern Illinois. West was the former president of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, which was the governing body for women’s athletics until women’s athletics became part of the Association.
West severed on numerous NCAA committees, including the Division I Management Council. Her contributions to intercollegiate athletics were recently recognized in the new NCAA Myles Brand Building, where a room is named in her honor.
Why should Title IX’s 40th anniversary be celebrated?
West: The anniversary gives us an opportunity to highlight a significant federal law that has positively impacted the lives of so many. It is a time to educate as so many young professionals in our field do not truly know the history and the content of the law.
I believe it is a time to celebrate and a time to recalibrate. We should celebrate the advances women athletes have made not only in increased opportunities to participate but in the increasing level of skill they have demonstrated
Twenty years ago, the NCAA published results of the first gender-equity report. Today we note that participation opportunities have increased from 30 percent to 43 percent. Allocated funds for recruiting have more than doubled from the 17 percent reported in 1992. Likewise, operating expenses have grown substantially. This progress needs to be celebrated.
We need, however, to recalibrate as there are now some disturbing signs of retrenchment in our progress. In the last decade, men have enjoyed more increases in participation slots than women at both the high school and college levels. Funding increases have been significantly higher for men’s athletics than for women’s athletics. In FBS schools for example, over 2.5 times more is spent for men than women.
These trends need to be reversed so that we can continue the progress we enjoyed in the 1990s.