In 1970, 16,000 women participated in intercollegiate sports; in 2012, the number was 200,000. In 1970, U.S. colleges had an average of 2.5 women’s varsity sports teams; last year, the average was 8.73 teams. Evidence of the law’s transformative effects could be seen at the 2012 Summer Olympics, where, for the first time, women made up more than half the U.S. team and took home the majority of its medals, including almost two-thirds of its gold medals.
Yet these gains have also had an unexpected consequence, making women’s sports more attractive to male coaches. The result is that as the number of female athletes has exploded, the proportion of female head coaches has steadily shrunk. In 1977, nine out of 10 women’s collegiate teams were coached by women. Last year, the figure was closer to four in 10, according to R. Vivian Acosta and Linda Jean Carpenter, emerita professors from Brooklyn College who have been publishing their Women in Intercollegiate Sport study for 35 years. (Meanwhile, some 97 percent of men’s teams still have male coaches.)
The decline has been less dramatic at colleges and universities with female athletic directors, Acosta and Carpenter report. But in 2012, only one in five athletic directors were women — even fewer at high-profile, Division 1 schools. Some 9 percent of athletic departments had no female administrators whatsoever. Nina Martin, Personnel Fouls: Sex Discrimination Suits Shake Tennessee Athletics