Women’s sports have come a long way — both nationally and at MU

Friday, November 30, 2007 | 6:08 p.m. CST; updated 8:55 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

COLUMBIA — In any given year, Lori Painter and Willie Geissert attend games for six or seven different MU sports, cheering their hearts out for their beloved Tigers.

More than half of these sports are played by women.


1971: The Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women is formed with 280 member schools. AIAW holds the first national tournaments in the 1971-72 season. 1972: Congress passes Title IX, which prohibits gender discrimination by any school that receives federal funds. 1973: On the advice of legal counsel, the NCAA rescinds its rule prohibiting female student-athletes from competing for NCAA championships. 1975: On Jan. 27, the first nationally televised women’s college basketball game shows Immaculata defeating the University of Maryland, 85-63. 1975: Title IX goes into effect June 21. 1976: Basketball player Ann Meyers becomes the first female recipient of a full athletic scholarship at UCLA. 1980: Membership of the AIAW grows to 971 schools, conducts 41 national championships in 19 sports and signs a four-year television contract with NBC. 1981: The first NCAA championships for women are held. 1982: The NCAA adds nine women’s national collegiate championships during the 1981-82 school year. 1983: The National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women is dissolved after women’s sports are placed under the NCAA. 1990: The number of women playing college sports jumps to 160,000. 1990: Sara Lee becomes the first corporation to make a major commitment solely to female athletics on the collegiate level with a $6 million donation to the NCAA. 1991: The Final Four of women’s college basketball is televised live for the first time. Tennessee edges Virginia 70-67 for its third NCAA title in the first overtime game in the tournament’s 10-year history. 1998: According to a survey conducted by the Chronicle of Higher Education, 40 percent of athletes at Division I schools in 1997-98 were women, a 5 percent increase over 1996-97. Women also receive 40 percent of athletic scholarship budgets, up 14 percent from the previous year. 1999: About 31,000 women are involved in college sports. Spending on athletic scholarships for women goes from less than $100,000 to almost $200 million. The number of sports grows from 2.1 to 7.7 per school. 2000: The NCAA’s annual participation report indicates an increase of 9.3 percent in women’s sports in 1998-99, with 145,832 participants. The biggest growth is in women’s outdoor track and field (up 2,261), women’s indoor track (up 1,912), women’s basketball (up 1,566), women’s soccer (up 1,533) and softball (up 1,193). 2001: The NCAA and ESPN agree on a contract for the Division I women’s basketball tournament, worth at least $160 million over 11 years beginning in 2003. The deal guarantees ESPN will expand its coverage of the women’s tournament to all 63 games and grants ESPN television rights to 20 other NCAA championships. 2004: Since Title IX took effect in 1972, the number of young women playing sports in college has increased by more than 400 percent and the number of young women playing interscholastic sports in high school has increased 847 percent. 2005: Tennessee basketball coach Pat Summitt gets her 880th win, the coach with the most wins in NCAA history. 2006: Summitt becomes the first women’s basketball coach to be paid more than $1 million. She signs a deal with Tennessee for $1.125 million for the following season. Sources: USA Today, American Association of University Women

“We love coming to games because girls are so passionate about the sport,” Painter said. “I wish there was more support for women’s basketball or women’s sports in general.”

Geissert agrees.

“They bust their butts just as much as the boys do, but they don’t get the same benefits,” Geissert said.

The popularity of MU women’s sports has dramatically increased over the last decade. Read more about women's sports fans here.

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