Ted Simons: Title IX turns 40 this year. The landmark law prohibits gender discrimination in athletics and education. Title IX was part of a law signed by President Nixon in 1972. Since then, the number of women participating in school athletics and pursuing higher education degrees has risen exponentially. The head coach of ASU’s women’s basketball team will join us for more in a moment, but first, we hear from basketball hall-of-famer Ann Meyers Drysdale, who recently spoke with us about Title IX.
Ann Meyers Drysdale: If there's a certain amount of scholarships on one sport, the women get that same amount of scholarships. I don't know how many scholarships in football, if there's 85, then you have to equalize the scholarships for women in something else. It's supposed to be equal, it was an education bill but it's become the calling card for women in sports. If you look at the Olympics that we're just coming from London, that the United States had a bigger delegation of women for the first time in the United States, going over to London, and we won more medals than the men did.
Ted Simons: Interesting.
Ann Meyers Drysdale: And most of women will tell you that whether it be swimming, gymnastics, volleyball, soccer, basketball, field hockey, whatever, a lot of the women have come up and said I wouldn't be here today without Title IX.
Ted Simons: Here now to talk more about the impact of Title IX is Charli Turner Thorne, head coach of the ASU women’s basketball team. Good to have you here, thanks for joining us.
Charli Turner Thorne: Thanks for having me.
Ted Simons: Better definition, Title IX, what exactly is it?
Charli Turner Thorne: It's opportunity. It's choice. It's obviously -- women were being denied for admission to college, forget sports. It was basically legislation that allowed us to pursue something besides a caregiving profession and then it sort of built on OK now we're in college and guys are playing sports and it became, you know, the legislation that helped us create opportunities for playing sports. So go ahead. --
Ted Simons: I didn't want to interrupt you there, what led to this change and how much change occurred early on? From what you've obviously, '72 is kind of far back there. It got a lot of attention, a lot of hostility coming from different areas on this.
Charli Turner Thorne: Absolutely. Actually, you know, when it passed, it didn't really have any teeth for a while. And the NCAA actually tried to sue against it and they did not support this particular law.
Ted Simons: My goodness.
Charli Turner Thorne: They wanted football and their men's sports to get all the resources and allocate it all human and otherwise. So gradually, you know, women began to sue at universities in particular for opportunities to play and have coaches and have funding and stuff and prior to that, you know, women would put on pennies out of their P.E. classes. There's a picture way back in an ASU book where some women are in skirts tipping off on dirt. No facilities, no uniforms, no nothing.
Ted Simons: Is there still some hostility to Title IX? Has it become a cliché for some folks that kind of grumble a little bit?
Charli Turner Thorne: I don't know about cliché but yeah. I think there's still some sub-populations out there that feel like Title IX took opportunities away from male athletes, which is simply not true. That's a myth. Obviously, it's 37 words, read the words, it's equal opportunity for everybody, you know, for education, you know, with funding through the federal government. So because of the financial, you know, I mean administrations at universities have made decisions based on how they want to spend their money. So men's sports may be cut as they started to fund women's sports because they want to put "X" amount of dollars into football. Those are fiscal decisions, they're not what Title IX is about.
Ted Simons: Well, I was going to ask regarding the impact of Title IX on budgets for women's sports. Evolving, ever evolving?
Charli Turner Thorne: Absolutely. Ever evolving. Certainly I think -- we've come so far, and, you know, I know certainly in the state, we've had tremendous support and I've always felt like I've always had what I've needed to be successful. It's a little bit apples and oranges when you talk budgets in the sense that obviously, it's a business and men's basketball and football generate a lot of revenue. And they need certain things to be able to do that. And so more money is spent on those sports, but I think, you know, for me, I just think what does a program need? Men or women, to be successful in their conference? If they're a BCS conference or whatever level they’re playing at, and to provide a great experience for their student athletes.
Ted Simons: As far as the impact on participation? I've read something along the lines where it was rare to find women involved in athletics and also pursuing higher education degrees. That has changed dramatically.
Charli Turner Thorne: A couple of fun facts. So in 1972-ish, there was 300,000 women playing high school sports. Now, there's 3.2 million. Prior to that, there was about 10% in medical school and law school, female students. Now, nationwide, 57% of college students are women. So I mean, this, obviously, or anybody that doesn't know, Title IX truly changed the history of our world for women in terms of opportunity and, you know, choice to do kind of what we want to do.
Ted Simons: And some ancillary things, as well, that people may not think about, just the concept of the athletic aspect, women's health, exercising more, getting out and being more active. That had to have changed, as well.
Charli Turner Thorne: Absolutely. I think obviously, the participation numbers have grown in youth sports. It's more accepted that girls can be athletes and, you know, this is what we do. I know for me growing up, I played with boys, and now, boys sometimes play with girls. Or there's opportunities probably just about in every sport for girls to have their own leagues, which definitely didn't exist when I was growing up.
Ted Simons: And something else that folks don't think about, but should be referred to is the concept of leadership skills, because sports in general, but even pursuing some of those higher degrees but especially sports, you learn so much in the way of leadership and, you know --
Charli Turner Thorne: Spoken like a former athlete.
Ted Simons: Well, you know, I pretended for quite a while, but you know what I mean?
Charli Turner Thorne: I do know what you mean. I truly believe sport is absolutely an education unto itself and that's why I want my kids to play and I truly believe that our student athletes learn probably as much within their sport in terms of growing themselves as men or women as leaders, you know, growing their life skills, I mean everything, their communication skills. All that they need to do to go on in life and be successful and do whatever they want to do, maybe more so than even in the classroom. So certainly Title IX providing those opportunities, you know, you look around today, you look at women in leadership positions, I mean our own governor, you know, we've had a series of governors in politics, CEO corporate America, I always contend that we've always been the head of the household, Ted, myself. [ Laughter ]
Ted Simons: No one's going to argue with you on that, either. You know you’re not going to practice, you watch your players, and you see how they communicate, some seem to lead, some seem to follow, vice versa, some are aggressive, but do you think about how far women's athletics have come? Just sometimes watching this, seeing how they've developed and knowing that '72's not that long ago.
Charli Turner Thorne: I do. I guess I'm in it so closely, I probably don't step back enough and just have a greater appreciation. There's a good movie called the Mighty Max that came out last year and it chronicled like pre-NCAA and scholarship college women's basketball on the east coast and these schools where all these great players played but pretty much nobody really knew about them and yeah, I mean it just amazes me what these young women get and certainly they give a lot. They have to work incredibly hard to earn the opportunities to be a scholarship athlete.
Ted Simons: Indeed.
Charli Turner Thorne: But when they get there and they earn that, I mean they truly have resources, some better than professional athletes.
Ted Simons: Wow.
Charli Turner Thorne: At the collegiate levels. So it's come a long ways.
Ted Simons: Do they have -- I don't want to say appreciate, I think most athletes do, but do they understand the importance of just the opportunity? Do they know about Title IX?
Charli Turner Thorne: Well, good question. I mean, obviously a big impetus for us, for our celebration this Sunday November 11th at our home opener 2:00 p.m., was certainly to educate. It's amazing to me to be honest how many teenagers, how many 20 years old, 30-year-olds have every even -- never even heard of Title IX. Some of our athletes had done a little paper in school and some were not very aware of how much it has impacted their lives. So that was sort of why we decided to do what we're doing this Sunday and honor 40 local heroes, pioneers and people that have taken advantage of the opportunities like myself to just, you know, hopefully impact others and make the world a better place. But yeah, we've been tweeting, we've been doing everything that we can to sort of hey, did you know fun facts, this is where we were, this is where we've come and, you know, we probably -- I think they were saying the other day, I don't know what happened to the 25th anniversary and the 30th. All of a sudden, it's the 40th and we probably need to appreciate it all the time.
Ted Simons: It's almost to the point where it's in a sideways sort of way kind of encouraging that they don't know that much about it because it's so entrenched now, it's so much a normal, that maybe that's not all that bad. But you do want them to know.
Charli Turner Thorne: That's a great point. I mean, that's how far we've come and we've grown and that is a good thing.
Ted Simons: Okay. The team celebration of Title IX, Texas tech?
Charli Turner Thorne: Yes.
Ted Simons: That's Sunday.
Charli Turner Thorne: Correct.
Ted Simons: 2:00.
Charli Turner Thorne: 2:00.
Ted Simons: At Wells Fargo.
Charli Turner Thorne: At Wells Fargo.
Ted Simons: 40 athletes are going to be out there at half-time?
Charli Turner Thorne: Not necessarily athletes. 40 people that we selected and we could have selected 400, not just women, but people that have in particular in the state of Arizona in our community been pioneers in education or in sport in particular for women.
Ted Simons: Okay.
Charli Turner Thorne: So media people, our own Jeff Medcaff from Arizona Republic, lots of great educators, coaches, we're going to actually have a panel after the game, Anne Meyers Drysdale is going to be on that panel, some other incredible women are going to be on it. Dr. Anna Battle, the principal at Desert Vista who was honored as the top principal in the country last year, great panel. –Great Panel.
Ted Simons: Good information, good stuff, good luck on the season, too.
Charli Turner Thorne: Thank you Ted.
Ted Simons: And that is it for now. I am Ted Simons, thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.