University of Minnesota

2012 Spring Newsletter

Download PDF

Nicole M. LaVoi

Hello from the Tucker Center! In this Title IX themed newsletter you will read about our spring Distinguished Lecture on April 23, "Title IX at 40: Changes, Challenges and Champions," featuring Title IX experts Peg Brenden, Judy Sweet, and Deborah Brake. You won't want to miss this panel! Our feature story "9 on IX" is a unique composition of nine invited experts from various disciplines who share their perspectives on the impact of Title IX. In our Learning Our Legacy column we feature Gopher Director of Athletics Joel Maturi, a staunch supporter of Title IX. Our Research Updates column highlights recently published work on Title IX by TC Affiliated Scholars. The Kudos section provides a sampling of our presentations, including those on Title IX, and other scholarly work pertaining to girls and women in sport.

While we are very busy this spring with the 40th anniversary of Title IX, last fall we successfully completed a few major endeavors. In November we hosted a dynamic conference, "Girls & Women in Sport and Physical Activity Conference 2011: Creating Change." This exciting one-day event was an enormous success and brought together over 150 national and international scholars in the field. All the conference materials and keynote videos are available here. Also now available either in DVD format or streaming live free of charge is the one-hour ground-breaking documentary we produced last October in partnership with Twin Cities Public Television—"Concussions and Female Athletes: The Untold Story." Check it out!

We aren't the only center busy honoring Title IX this spring. Our colleagues at the newly formed SHARP Center at the University of Michigan are hosting "Title IX at 40: Progress and Promise—Equity for All," May 9-11. I've been invited to be a panelist at the conference and I hope to see some of you there, if not sooner.

To keep up to date on all things Tucker Center or to see where we are speaking near you, follow us on social media and visit our Web page regularly at

—Nicole M. LaVoi, Associate Director

It is undeniable that Title IX has drastically changed the landscape for sporting females at all levels of competition in the United States. Passed in 1972, this landmark federal legislation not only increased the number of participation opportunities for female athletes, but also led to a host of other positive outcomes, as well as some unintended consequences.

On the 40th anniversary of the passage of Title IX, misinformation and a lack of awareness about the impact and influence of the law continue to abound. We in the Tucker Center and others are dedicated to our mission to dispel myths and educate people about Title IX. As TC Director Mary Jo Kane says, "In one generation we've gone from girls hoping there was a team, to girls hoping they'd make the team." Sadly, however, when we ask our students today what they know about Title IX, few of them can answer. We fear that in one generation we are going to go from women who fought for a team, to girls who believe they're entitled to a team (and who have no knowledge or awareness of the rich history of Title IX).

To provide a perspective on the groundbreaking effects brought about by Title IX, we asked nine colleagues to answer the following question: What is the most significant impact of Title IX on your discipline/life/career? We hope you will enjoy this "9 on IX" approach and the perceptions, memories, and opinions of our invited experts.

Janet Fink
Department of Kinesiology, University of Connecticut; NASSM President

Janet FinkSport Management: Title IX's positive impact on girl's and women's sport participation is well documented. These participation opportunities exposed millions of girls and women to careers in sport management. A recent study indicates Title IX accounted for nearly 40 percent of the growth in employment for young women in general and, undoubtedly, increased the number of occupational choices and opportunities within sport. Women are now represented in all types of sport management occupations, occupations that, prior to Title IX, would have been viewed as inappropriate or unattainable. Women in sport management still face barriers, but Title IX got us in the game.

Mariah Burton Nelson
Author; Vice President for Innovation, American Society of Association Executives—The Center for Association Leadership

Mariah Burton Nelson"Breasts": In 1972, I asked the boys' high school basketball coach if I could try out for the team. There was no girls' team. He refused. "Your breasts would get in the way," he claimed. In 2012, at Gold's Gym, all classes are coed. The Body Pump instructor is named Melissa. "Choose your weights," says Melissa, then chooses heavy weights for her own bar. Melissa's got big muscles and big breasts. When she swings her barbell overhead, her breasts swing up too, as if striving toward their own lofty goals. The students, groaning to keep up, do not seem to notice. Melissa's breasts do not get in the way.

Pat Griffin
Professor Emeritus, Social Justice Education Program, University of Massachusetts Amherst; Project Director, Changing the Game: Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Sports Project

Pat GriffinAddressing Discrimination Against Lesbians in Sport: Lesbians, like all other girls and women, have benefited from increased participation opportunities at all levels of sport. Additionally, Title IX provides protection from the use of gender stereotypes to discriminate against any female who is assumed to be a lesbian based on her gender expression. Title IX's prohibitions against retaliation also protect women who challenge inequality and, as a result, are subjected to intimidation based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation. Lesbians have always been a part of sports in every role. Despite facing intimidation and discrimination based on their sexual orientation, lesbians are strong advocates for women's sports equality, and the protection of Title IX is an effective tool in achieving equality in sports for women of all sexual orientations.

Kent Kaiser
School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Minnesota

Kent KaiserMedia Studies: The most significant impact Title IX has had on media is the sheer increase of material now available to cover and study. While there are controversies on the quantity, quality, style, and placement of media coverage of girls and women in sport, there is no question that Title IX has led to an increase in material to cover. Consequently, from an academic media studies perspective, there are more research questions to be investigated than there otherwise would be. Moreover, those questions have poignancy because of the expectations of what should exist in the real world, in light of the law; we have benchmarks of where we were and implicit goals for where we should be, in terms of media coverage.

Jo Ann Buysse
School of Kinesiology, University of Minnesota

Jo Ann BuysseAthletes with Disabilities: Title IX has not been an asset for athletes with disabilities, or more appropriately, impairments. Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex, not disability, and many argue that people with impairments need a similar law. Paralympian and past president of the Women's Sports Foundation, Aimee Mullins, advocates for a national law that provides people with disabilities equal access to physical education and athletics. The Department of Education issued regulations under the Rehab Act stating that interscholastic and intercollegiate programs should provide equal opportunity to people with physical or mental impairments; however, the vast majority have not. From my viewpoint, all students with impairments are underserved and marginalized in high school and university sport programs, and females have far fewer opportunities than males.

Lynda Ransdell
Department of Kinesiology, Boise State University; NAGWS President

Lynda RansdellNational Association for Girls & Women in Sport (NAGWS): Title IX provided a means for better enforcement of equity in sport (although we still have a long way to go!), it provided a vehicle for NAGWS members to work together on a variety of initiatives including the Title IX tool kit and video and Girls & Women in Sport Day in February, and it provided opportunities to partner with other organizations interested in women's equity. Along with the positive impact, there have been a few negatives. First, there is a myth that men's sports are being dropped to pay for the addition of women's sports. In reality, efforts to improve facilities, enhance recruiting/equipment budgets, and pay coaches of men's sports have contributed to fewer overall funds for an athletic department. Another negative impact is that as women's sports have increased in prestige, there are fewer opportunities for females interested in coaching and administration. Finally, as more money was made from selling rule books, the NCAA stripped NAGWS of the opportunity to create rule books for women's sports. Title IX has had a tremendously positive impact on female athletes, coaches, and administrators. However, this law will only remain relevant if we continue to remain vigilant and educated about Title IX and related issues.

Carole Oglesby
Professor Emeritus, Temple University; Former President AIAW & NAGWS

Carole OglesbyPhysical Education and the Emergence of Kinesiology: Few disciplines have struggled so much with naming, but the history of "Kinesiology" nomenclature has much to do with Title IX. From the inception of modern American academic infrastructure (roughly 1875-1975), the content area was called "Physical Education" and had two distinct variants—the "women's" and the "men's" version. Title IX is a civil rights law and has no direct intent to restructure disciplines. It requires, rightly and some would say tardily, that benefits flowing from applications of knowledge (in schools) must be equitably distributed. In the 1970s, the simplest way to assure equitable distribution of benefits to the "Physical EducationS" was to merge them. Higher education administrators doing the merging had little, if any, sense of what essentially was being merged. Men's Physical Education heads were placed in charge, and the "women's way" was sub-merged out of existence. Kinesiology (Exercise Science) was born out of this merger in academe. With all the losses—women directors of athletics, women coaches, women department chairs—the gains in unification of Kinesiology and its sub-disciplinary elements have been substantial in collegiate and discipline-based life. School programs (often still called Physical Education) in hard economic times are the ground where dedicated female physical educators have been largely replaced by individuals whose main concern is coaching, resulting in a loss of program quality. Title IX is a necessary law which must be sustained and fully implemented. There is another law of which we must be more cognizant going forward: the law of unintended consequences.

Jennifer Bhalla
School of Kinesiology, University of Minnesota

Jennifer BhallaPublic Health: The surging incidence of chronic illness in the United States—most notably obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes—is troubling, especially for girls and women. Understanding, stalling, and stopping this trend is imperative for the health and quality of life for girls, now and into the future. The passage of Title IX served as a catalyst to create physical activity programs for girls ranging from small neighborhood events to initiatives that span the entire United States. Title IX continues to provide an infrastructure that allows girls to engage in physical activity and reap the associated long-term benefits on physical, psychological, sexual, maternal, nutritional, and social health.

Cheryl Cooky
Department of Health and Kinesiology and Women's Studies, Purdue University

Cheryl CookySport Sociology: The passage of Title IX and the subsequent influx of girls and women in sport provided sociologists with a "new" social institution from which to examine broader concerns regarding social inequality. In the 1980s, sociologists viewed sport as the "last male preserve." And while persisting forms of inequality exist in media coverage, in the number of women in leadership and decision-making positions, and homophobia, the dramatic growth in female athletic participation required sociologists in the 1990s and 2000s to develop sophisticated theoretical understandings of the experiences and cultural meanings of female athletes in a male-dominated institution.

This spring Tucker Center Affiliated Scholars' published work on Title IX is available.

TC Affiliated Scholar Lisa Kihl and her doctoral student Matthew Soroka published an article titled, "The Legitimacy of a Federal Commission as a Deliberative Democratic Process: The Case of the Secretary's Commission on Opportunity in Athletics," in Administration & Society (2012, January). In the article they examine the legitimacy of the 2002 Secretary's Commission on Opportunity in Athletics, a federal commission appointed to examine the ways to strengthen Title IX enforcement, expand opportunities, and ensure fairness for all athletes.

TC Affiliated Scholar Cheryl Cooky and TC Associate Director Nicole M. LaVoi published a feature article, "Playing but Losing: Women's Sports After Title IX," in the American Sociological Association's (ASA) Contexts quarterly journal (2012, Winter). They argue that while girls and women have more opportunities now, the playing field is still far from level, including major inequities such as media attention, distribution of institutional resources, and opportunities to coach and lead in sport contexts.

On the eve of the 40th anniversary of Title IX, Vivian Acosta and Linda Carpenter released the most recent installment of their seminal report, "Women in Intercollegiate Sport: A Longitudinal, National Study, Thirty-Five Year Update. 1977-2012," which documents the number of female athletes, coaches, and administrators involved in intercollegiate sport in the United States. Highlights of the 2012 report include both positive and troubling news.

The encouraging news is that in a few categories, women are represented with the highest numbers ever, including: female athletes; women's teams; women's teams per school; paid assistant coaches for women's teams; schools that have at least one female administrator; and female professionals employed within intercollegiate athletics.

The disconcerting news reveals negligible or negative change in the percentages of the following: women's teams coached by females (up to 42.9% from 42.6% in 2010, but down from ~90% in the pre-Title IX era); men's teams coached by females (~2-3%); female head athletic trainers (up to 30.7% from 28%); and female sports information directors (down to 9.8% from 11.9%). 2012 marked the first time data on strength and conditioning coaches was collected—only 24.7% of all schools have a female on the strength and conditioning staff.

A copy of the report can be downloaded free of charge at

There are a few things you might not know about University of Minnesota Director of Athletics Joel Maturi.

Maturi grew up playing football and basketball "on the range" in Chisholm, MN, where his high school basketball coach and mentor, Robert McDonald, is still the head coach after 51 years! Maturi attended Notre Dame ('67) where he served as a student manager on legendary coach Ara Parseghian's first national championship football team ('66). He coached Saturday Night Live comedian Chris Farley in football at Edgewood High School in Madison, WI, where he worked in various roles for 19 years prior to entering college athletics administration.

You also might not know that Joel Maturi is a champion of female athletes and an early and often supporter of the Tucker Center. TC Director Mary Jo Kane offers her insights on Maturi: "Joel is an advocate and champion of women's sport and a staunch supporter of Title IX. He believes female athletes deserve the same opportunity and respect as the men." When Title IX was passed in 1972, Maturi was a high school athletics director. Very quickly girls' basketball was added, and he went from having to schedule three teams in one gym to scheduling six. From the beginning under Maturi's leadership, the boys' and girls' teams rotated practice times from 3:00-9:30pm. This was a rare practice, since the boys' teams usually received the "prime" practice and game times. When asked what influenced his perspective of fairness and equity for female athletes, he simply states, "It just seemed like the right thing to do," then adds, chuckling, "I was also surrounded by nuns!"

Navigating the implementation and compliance of Title IX in the early years was not the only challenge Maturi has faced around women's athletics. After stints at the University of Wisconsin, University of Denver, and Miami University, he landed at Minnesota in 2002, the first athletic director following the controversial merger of the men's and women's athletic departments. Minnesota needed the perfect hire to manage the merger and lead the department after the men's basketball scandal, and according to Kane, who chaired the AD search a decade ago, Maturi was the unanimous favorite for the job. "Everyone who knows him said the same thing," says Kane, "He is a man of his word, possesses unparalleled integrity, honors the right values, and does things the right way." U of M Senior Associate Director of Athletics Regina Sullivan's comments reflect Kane's sentiment: "When Joel arrived on campus, his immediate challenge was to transition separate men's and women's athletics departments into one. The cultures of the two programs could not have been more different. With Joel's leadership, the transition was almost seamless as he provided integrity, transparency, and genuine care for all. Many of the advocates for the women's department who were concerned about the unification are now among his biggest supporters. Joel will leave a lasting legacy on the Athletics program for all that he accomplished during his tenure."

During Maturi's tenure at Minnesota, he amassed an impressive list of accomplishments: four national titles, 42 Big Ten or WCHA championships, no major NCAA violations, a complete transformation of Gopher Athletics, and all-time high graduation rates (80%). In addition, under his leadership 25 sports have been maintained and continue to rank in the top 20 nationally, the budget is balanced, football returned to campus, and fund-raising for facilities and scholarships continues to increase. His steady guidance and unwavering integrity made these remarkable accomplishments possible.

This summer after 10 progressive years as Gopher Director of Athletics, Maturi will step down and serve the University in a different capacity—as special assistant to University President Eric Kaler and as a faculty member in the School of Kinesiology. At heart, Maturi is an educator, as Kane observes: "He is one of a kind, and our students will benefit greatly from his expertise, insights, and knowledge in the classroom." His tireless commitment to "doing the right thing" and his vision to improve the academic achievement, social conduct, and athletic performance for all athletes and teams while striving for gender equity is admirable. We at the Tucker Center are honored to call him our friend.

Honors & Awards

  • TC Director Mary Jo Kane was appointed by President Eric Kaler to co-chair the search for the University's new Director of Athletics to replace Joel Maturi, who is retiring June 30.TC Director Mary Jo Kane was appointed by President Eric Kaler to co-chair the search for the University's new Director of Athletics to replace Joel Maturi, who is retiring June 30.
  • Kane was presented the Special Merit Award by the Minnesota Coalition of Women in Athletic Leadership on February 1 as part of the National Girls and Women in Sports Day celebration. The award is presented to an individual or organization who exemplifies the highest levels of commitment and contribution to breaking barriers for girls and women in sport. Congratulations Dr. Kane!
  • TC Associate Director Nicole M. LaVoi was invited to serve on the Advisory Panel for espnW, whose mission is to serve as an integral connector between espnW and the women + sports culture.


  • PhD student John Lisec and his former MA adviser Mary McDonald (Miami University) have an article accepted for publication titled, "Gender Inequality in the New Millennium: An Analysis of WNBA Representations in Sport Blogs," in the Journal of Sports Media.
  • LaVoi was invited to write an article titled, "Trends in Gender-Related Research in Sport & Exercise Psychology," now published in Revista Iberoamericana de Psicolog’a del Ejercicio y el Deporte (Ibero-American Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology), the primary sport and exercise psychology journal for Spanish and Portuguese speakers in Europe and South America.


  • Doctoral candidate Chelsey Thul presented a paper, "Understanding Physical Activity Spaces Among Somali Adolescent Girls and Women," at the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport (NASSS) annual conference, November 2-5, 2011, in Minneapolis, MN.
  • TC Affiliated Scholar Jo Ann Buysse was a delegate of the IOC 5th World Conference on Women & Sport, February 16-18, Los Angeles, CA.
  • Kane delivered a number of invited keynotes this spring, including "Title IX at 40: Changing the Landscape in Women's Sports" for the Minnesota Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, February 22, 2012. She delivered "Media Representations of Female Athletes: The Good, the Bad, and the Sexy" twice, at the Florida International University Honors College Excellence Lecture, March 1, 2012 and for the AAHPERD Research Consortium Raymond A. Weiss Distinguished Lecture in Boston, March 14, 2012. In this lecture she examines how "selling sex" by creating "sexy babe" images suppresses interest in—not to mention respect for—women's sports.
  • Graduate students Emily Houghton and Ness Madeiros gave a presentation, "Title IX: Past, Present, Future," March 29, 2012 to the Friends of St. Paul Libraries.
  • TC Affiliated Scholar Diane Wiese-Bjornstal and LaVoi will give invited keynotes on concussions and sport parents respectively, at the first USA Hockey American Development Model Symposium for coaches of female hockey players held April 12-15, 2012, in Burlington, VT. The symposium is being held in conjunction with the International Ice Hockey Federation Women's World Championships.
  • In March, LaVoi traveled with a U of M delegation that included Kinesiology Chair Li Li Ji, Senior Vice President Robert Jones, and Director of the China Center Joan Brzezinski, to Tianjin, China, to deliver a keynote titled, "The Evolution of American College Sport and the Role of Females" at the inaugural celebration and opening ceremonies of the US-China Center for Sports Culture Exchange at Tianjin University of Sport.

About the Lecture

As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Title IX, the landscape of sports for girls and women has undergone dramatic and transformative change. One of the most successful pieces of civil rights legislation in this country has allowed record numbers of females to engage—and succeed—in sport participation at all levels of competition. In spite of such gains, numerous myths and stereotypes about Title IX remain and challenges to the federal law threaten to reverse progress. To honor the 40th anniversary of Title IX, the Tucker Center has assembled a trio of champions who have changed and challenged the landscape of sport for females and who will discuss the impact of this groundbreaking legislation from their respective positions of expertise and experience.

About the Panelists

Peg BrendenPeg Brenden, JD, has been a Compensation Judge with the Minnesota State Office of Administrative Hearings for the past 25 years. Judge Brenden is uniquely qualified to understand and appreciate Title IX. In 1972, while still a high school senior, she became a pioneering plaintiff in a groundbreaking federal lawsuit, Brenden v. Independent School District 742—one of the first Title IX cases nationwide to deal with the issue of equal rights for girls in high school sports. As a result of that suit, Brenden earned the right to play on her high school (boys') tennis team and went on to play intercollegiate tennis (on the women's team) at Luther College. Brenden's story and courage reflects how one person can truly create change.

Judith SweetJudith M. Sweet, MS, MBA, is a nationally known expert on Title IX. Of her many accomplishments, she served terms as secretary-treasurer (1989) and president (1991) of the NCAA, the first woman to serve in each of those positions. She is also a former NCAA senior vice president (2001-06) and director of athletics emerita (University of California, San Diego, 1975-99). She was one of the first women in the nation selected to direct a combined men's and women's athletics program. In 2011 Sweet received the NACWAA Lifetime Achievement Award and was recently selected by the Sports Business Journal as a member of the 2012 class of "The Champions: Pioneers & Innovators in Sports Business"—an award that in part reflects the numerous ways she's changed women's sport.

Deborah BrakeDeborah Brake, JD, has been a Professor of Law and Distinguished Faculty Scholar at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law since 1998 and she was formerly senior counsel at the National Women's Law Center. She is a nationally recognized expert and author on Title IX and gender equality in sports and on gender discrimination more broadly. Her book, Getting in the Game: Title IX and the Women's Sports Revolution, was published by New York University Press in 2010 and her law review articles have appeared in numerous prestigious journals. Brake's legal scholarship explores the theoretical underpinnings of equality law, including the law's treatment of punitive responses to equality claims under Title IX.


The panel will be moderated by Tucker Center Affiliated Scholar Rayla Allison, JD, a national expert on Title IX case law and founder of the Sport Business Institute in the School of Kinesiology at the U of M.


To learn more about the event,
go to our Distinguished Lecture site.