Collegiate sports are one of America’s favorite pass-times. Both the football and basketball seasons bring in more money than all other collegiate sports combined. But what makes these programs so successful? Now, take me for what my opinion is worth, but many of these programs, from UNC to Noter Dame to UCL, all have behind the scenes people that we don’t think about or give credit to: The Athletic Departments and Athletic Directors. However, what’s even more surprising (or maybe it’s not to most) is that almost all of Division I Athletic Directors are men.
Now, I’m not saying that this is a bad thing, but maybe there is room for possible change and growth. According to an article on the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators, “women occupy five of the 120 athletic-director positions in Division I-A.”
With all the progress that women have made in the last century, and with the adaptation of Title IX by the NCAA, you might think that the number of women athletic directors would have risen steadily with the increase of women athletics in institutions across the country. Sadly this has not been the case. It’s not that women aren’t skilled or educated enough. But rather a popular belief stands in their way. Influential boosters of collegiate programs believe that women are not up to the task of leading programs dominated by men’s sports, nor can they handle the business aspect of the job. The NACWAA sees it in the way that college presidents and chancellors need to break the mold and hire a woman.
Unfortunately, it is my feelings and beliefs that women will always be seen as inadequate in the sports world by some critics. Yes, we’ve come a long way since the women’s rights movements, but we still have a ways to go. There is still a stigma that women don’t have a place in sports, or don’t do much for the athletic programs. Even professional sports lack the respect for women’s sports, but that’s an argument for another day.
Nevertheless, the five women that currently lead DI-A programs – “Sandy Barbour, at the University of California at Berkeley; Kathy Beauregard, at Western Michigan University; Cary Groth, at the University of Nevada at Reno; Lisa Love, at Arizona State University; and Deborah A. Yow, at North Carolina State University” – have earned all my respect. I hope the future finds more women athletic directors and less push-back, if you will, to the change and the skill-set of a women leader in sports.