Athletics Department honoring 50th anniversary of Title IX

Grand Valley’s Athletics Department will celebrate 50 years since the enactment of Title IX with an anniversary celebration at noon on June 23 in the lobby of the Fieldhouse.

Thursday’s celebration will also include remarks from Director of Athletics Keri Becker and Kevin Carmody, director of the Office for Title IX and Institutional Equity. 

President Richard Nixon signed Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 into law on June 23, 1972. Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in any educational program or activity receiving any type of federal financial aid. 

Women’s athletics began at Grand Valley in 1968 with the formation of a softball team, four years before Title IX was enacted.

On campus, Joan Boand was the strongest advocate for women’s athletics, joining the university as an assistant professor in the physical education department in 1966. Boand, who died in January at the age of 88, quickly set about to establish women’s athletics on a young Grand Valley campus, said Pat Baker-Grzyb, one of her former players.

“I look at the Grand Valley women’s programs and Joan started them all, she was fighting for female athletes,” said Pat Baker-Grzyb, an inaugural member of Grand Valley’s Sports Hall of Fame. “Grand Valley was one of the first colleges to have scholarships, and Joan fought for those.”

Before Title IX, fewer than 32,000 women participated in collegiate athletics and fewer than 300,000 girls participated in high school athletics. Fifty years later, more than 200,000 women are playing college sports and more than 3 million girls play high school sports. 

Of Grand Valley’s 18 athletic programs, 11 are women’s teams that have won 20 national championships since 2005. 

Most recently, the women’s track and field team won its third indoor title at the NCAA Division II indoor championships in March 2021 while the women’s soccer program claimed its seventh NCAA Division II title in December.