Posted by: emilymalley12 | March 26, 2015

Title IX, Basketball, and the Importance of Female Coaches

Title IX has been a recent discussion point in class so I figured why not look further into it myself? Throughout this school year, I have gone to seminars and workshops through different organizations I’m involved with and I have heard different perspectives of Title IX and its exponential importance in regards to collegiate women on campuses across the country. Title IX was enacted in 1972 and while it did start out as a catalyst for the integration of women into federally-funded education programs, the number of female sports team coaches dropped dramatically.

This article follows the experiences of several female coaches and how they have continued to coach while others have opted out, only to be replaced by male coaches. According to the author, the shift in coaching came when collegiate women’s basketball teams joined the NCAA by the end of the 1970s/ early 80s. At this point the teams became more competitive, professional, and driven in nature resulting in men going after head coaching positions of the women’s teams. The author also comments on the fact that a Division 1 college in Minnesota has 8 female coaches out of the female 12 teams. These women were not chosen on the premise that they were women, but rather because the recruiters and interviewers made conscious efforts to have a variety of coaching backgrounds to choose from.

The author raises another interesting point by highlighting the case of Shannon Miller, the former head coach of Minnesota-Duluth’s female ice hickey team. While the termination of her job announced to Miller as a means of reducing spending, she believes that it was actually a result of her sexual orientation. While head coach Miller led her team to 5 NCAA championship wins, a highly-impressive winning percentage, and over 20 former and current Olympians. Miller believes that being a lesbian in combination of the negative stereotypes that identified in the article is the true reason that she lost her job.

Have you ever had a female coach that was looked down upon by other male coaches at the schools you played sports for? Do you think your perception of the coach, being positive or negative, affected how successful you thought they were? And while it is hard to prove, do you think Miller’s argument about losing her job due to her sexual orientation is valid?


  1. It is interesting that the article, in part, discusses women being pushed out of coaching positions for males in that I realized I have never really had a female coach, regardless of the many different sports I have played, each at varying ages. Therefore, I have no had a personal experience with a female coach being looked down upon. However, I believe that the perception of a coach may be based on gender more for men than for women. I believe this is because men have responded to Title IX in a way that is similar to how they react with women taking over any aspect that was previously male-dominated or patriarchal. I believe that athletes or team members’ responses to a coach are most predominantly based on how they do in terms of performance and response to coaching and leadership style more than because of the gender of the coach.
    In terms of the story of Shannon Miller, it will always be hard to prove that an organization fired someone due to sexual orientation, race, or gender. There is obvious evidence that could be used to make this seem like a valid explanation, but this information can also be used in a biased manner to prove a point. That being said, Miller being a female with a homosexual orientation probably did not help her out, in terms of these two categories being stereotypically less accepted than being male and heterosexual in our society. Although these things are changing, these could both be very valid reasons for her being fired. I still believe this would be hard to prove that this is the only basis for Miller losing her job. I think other things such as approval ratings of her leadership in many different aspects, as well as her win-loss record. These aspects, among other things, are also large factors that could have contributed to Miller losing her job. However, the argument can be made that, to some degree, her sexual orientation and gender did not prevent her from being fired.

  2. As a guy I have never had any women coaches, but have seen them coach in different forms. One of the reasons that I think men have been selected to coach more women sports teams is largely due to the fact that they have “experience,” that women supposedly lack. This hiring of men due to more experience and knowledge of the game,largely come from the increase in competition in women’s sports and the pressure schools have to succeed in order bring in more revenue and increase their prestige. Though many women have played sports, and even many at a competitive level, the weight behind the legacy of competitiveness in men’s sports drives the exclusion of women from potential coaching positions.

    There is the glimpses of hope for a change of this pattern of women being excluded from coaching women’s teams in colleges. The hope for more women leaders in collegiate sports comes from the increasing competitive nature of women’s sports in college and the recognition of these females’ experience in the sport. An example of this change is the newly hired women’s basketball coach of South Carolina Dawn Staley, who played at the University of Virginia and in the WNBA. As more of these high profile female athlete’s end their careers and look to go into coaching there should be a rise in female coaches, at least on the women’s side. I do not think that women will be able to penetrate male’s sports without an entire culture change in the US/sports world.

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