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The 50th Anniversary of Title IX: A Brief Cal Perspective

Former Cal basketball star Colleen Galloway and the head coaches of Golden Bears' women's field hockey and women's golf offer insights

When Title IX became law 50 years ago today – on June 23, 1972 – only one of the 15 women’s intercollegiate varsity sports currently offered by Cal was a Cal sport then. Eight of the 15 current women’s sports were instituted within four years of the passage of Title IX. The lone current women’s sport offered by Cal prior to Title IX was softball, which had just finished its first season, having completed its six-game schedule. That’s a little different from the 2002 Cal softball team, which played 75 games and won the national championship.

If it hadn’t been for that 37-word piece of legislation that included no reference to athletics and was tucked away -- virtually unnoticed -- within a mammoth education bill, would we have an Alex Morgan or a Natalie Coughlin?

The progress made in women’s sports because of Title IX is undeniable, although few would claim complete gender equity has been achieved.

“I was one of seven kids; I never would have been able to afford Cal,” Colleen Galloway, who was the first woman to receive an athletic scholarship at Cal and was a two-time All-America basketball player from 1978 through 1981, said in the video atop this story. “Having that scholarship allowed me to go to an amazing university.

“[But] it didn’t immediately change the status of women’s sports or athletics nor the priority within athletic departments.”

The Cal women’s team in Galloway’s time had to hunt for places to practice, and it shared a locker room with the physical education department, forcing the team members to find a corner of the room -- away from other phys ed students using that room -- to talk strategy with the coach.

***Click here for a story on how Title IX helped Cal Olympian Sheila Hudson

Shellie Onstead, who was an All-America Cal field hockey player from 1980 through 1982 and has been the Golden Bears head field hockey coach since 1995, has experienced the effects of Title IX

“It has been a big part of my life,” she said. “We have come a really long way and I think we have a long way to go.”

She has had personal associations with matters requiring the application of Title IX. One dealt with the use of a field for her team as she explains in the video below:

An October 2017 report in the Daily Californian included this excerpt about the apparent resolution of the debate:

The team’s concerns are now mostly resolved, but the campus’s are not. After a federal investigation into the campus’s handling of its field hockey program, UC Berkeley agreed in March to federal Title IX monitoring by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, or OCR. A representative from OCR visited campus this year as a part of the agreement.

And the other instance was when she was coach of the U.S. Under-16 male field hockey team. She said Title IX was used to give male field hockey players from Massachusetts who did not have boys field hockey teams at their schools, the right to play on the girls field hockey team. The boys even wore skirts to conform to the dress code the school required for the girls field hockey team.

“This is a great example of the depth of the law,” Onstead said.

The requirements to comply with Title IX in collegiate sports are lengthy and can be examined in an article I wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle on the 30th anniversary of Title IX. But the basic premise is that the percentage of female athletes compared to male athletes should be roughly the same as the percentage of female students to male students at the institution in question.

Onstead has seen the dramatic change from when she was a college athlete.

“We thought it was super-cool that we had a team and that we were sharing uniforms with the volleyball team,” she said. “Recent changes with NIL [names, image and likeness payments to amateur athletes] and that sort of thing and the money these young women are making – I don’t think anyone imagined that back in 1980.”

And women are getting a substantial portion of the NIL pie.

Data tracked by Opendorse through May 31, 2022, indicate that the percentage of total compensation for NIL activity nationwide is nearly equal for men’s basketball (17.0 percent) as women’s basketball (15.7 percent), which rank as the second- and third-biggest NIL money-makers. Football, of course, is first, with practically 50 percent of the NIL compensation, but four of the top six are women’s sports, with women’s volleyball, softball and women’s swimming and diving ranking fourth through sixth. Women’s soccer ranks ahead of men’s soccer; women’s swimming ranks ahead of men’s swimming; women’s track ranks above men’s track; women’s gymnastics ranks ahead of men’s gymnastics.

Progress in women’s sports was slow, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s, when there was pushback from men’s sports teams when the requirements of Title IX were being instituted.

Cal did not have a women’s golf program until 1994, when Nancy McDaniel, an All-America golfer while at Washington in the late 1980s, was asked to start one.

“And everyone always asked me, ‘Why did it take so long in an area like Berkeley?’” she said, “and I wonder myself.”

Onstead notes that the progress for female athletes has been admirable, but the progress of female coaches has not.

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A 2013 report in the Indiana Journal of Law and Social Equality notes that the percentage of women's head coaches for women's sports programs had gone down significantly, with males getting more of those jobs.

At Cal, 11 of the 15 women's sports have a female head coach and a 12th has co-head coaches, one of which is female.

Galloway admits there is still “room to grow” in gender equity. But she added this:

“We have this new generation growing up with this expectation that things should be fairly similar, fairly close,” she said, “and I think that’s a good thing and that will continue to force anyone who’s reluctant to get closer to the ideals of Title IX.”

The issue growing with intensity is the interpretation of Title IX with regard to transgender athletes in sports. An Associated Press report this week titled “Title IX’s next battle: The rights of transgender athletes” looks into that debate and includes this excerpt:

As the transformational law heads into its second half-century on the books, the Biden administration wants transgender athletes to enjoy the same protections Title IX originally gave to women when it was passed 50 years ago. That stance is at odds with efforts in states across the country.

Galloway, Onstead and McDaniel took a crack at addressing that issue, but the most salient quote about the future of gender identity in sports came from Onstead at the end of the video below:

“I think it will end up being an issue in every sport," she said. "If we don’t talk about it as a whole, we’re fooling ourselves. It’s coming to all sports, all genders.”

McDaniel also addressed it:

And Galloway, currently the principal at Moreau Catholic High School in Hayward, Calif, addressed it, noting that we may be focusing on the outcome in events involving transgender athletes more than the humanitarian progress of such a situation:

“This is my personal belief, that I think they should be able to compete," she said. "I think that humanness calls all of us to live their authentic self. If that ends up giving one person in one race or three races a slight advantage, I think that’s a small price to pay.”

And Galloway added one more thought on the issue:

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The 37 words that make up Title IX:

"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

Those words appear on the 138th page of a wide-ranging 146-page bill known as the "Education Amendments of 1972," and it is listed under the heading "Title IX -- Prohibition of Sex Discrimination." The 37 words are followed by several pages of exceptions, qualifications and methods of enforcement of those 37 words. The terms "sports" and "athletics" are not mentioned a single time in any of the sections pertaining to Title IX, and it was several months after President Nixon signed the bill into law on June 23, 1972, that anyone in authority realized it might have applications for women's college sports.

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Cover photo of Colleen Galloway shooting during her Cal days provided by Cal Athletics.

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