Chris Plonsky, UT women’s athletics director since 2001, presented a talk Wednesday evening called “Title IX and the Future of Women’s Athletics,” which focused on the history of Title IX, a law equalizing opportunities in education, and its relationship to UT.
Title IX, a segment of the Education Amendments of 1972, forbids exclusion on the basis of gender from any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. The law has since allowed many female student-athletes an opportunity to compete and receive scholarships for athletic excellence. Plonsky said UT is the only university that has not had to drop a men’s sport in order to finance a growing women’s athletic program.
During her talk Plonsky said Title IX initially had little association with sports.
“It was originally intended to offer equal financial and educational opportunities to women,” she said. “It wasn’t associated with sports. It was a law solely intended to improve our education system.”
Despite its early focus on education, Plonsky said Title IX is responsible for much of the success the UT sports program experiences today.
“Our winnings, our offerings, our reputation is at its best today because of Title IX’s initial passing,” she said.
Plonsky said that Title IX recruited and offered scholarships to many young women who might not have had the chance to attend UT otherwise.
“It’s not about sports. It’s not about numbers. It’s about opportunities,” Plonsky said.
Paige Bauerkemper, an educational psychology graduate student, said she was surprised by the talk although she previously studied female student-athletes.
“I was really impressed to hear how UT was such a pioneering factor in women’s sports,” Bauerkemper said.
Charles Lu, the program coordinator for the Distinguished Speaker Series, said he hoped students’ general interest in UT athletics would incite them to learn more about the program’s past.
“I try to choose topics I think the students would find of interest. I think it’s important that we understand the history behind school sports,” Lu said.
Printed on Thursday, January 31, 2013 as: Athletics Director shines light on historical Title IX