Title IX was initially intended to give women more opportunities in higher education, with access to athletics a mere side effect. By opening the gates to gyms, stadiums and playing fields, however, Title IX changed the way women in America see themselves. Here, in their own words, are what Title IX has meant to athletes, coaches, administrators and league officials.

"The concern I had was you had 53 percent of American people happen to be women, you can't ignore their brain power. If you give a person an education, whether it's a boy or girl, young woman or young man, they will have tools necessary to make a life for families and themselves." ... "Little girls need strong bodies to carry their minds around just as little boys do." ... "I may have put words on the piece of paper, but those who made Title IX come alive are the coaches and the players and the parents. All of them participate in giving their daughters the same opportunities as their sons."

Sen. Birch Bayh 
Co-author and sponsor of Title IX

"The benefits men realized for 100 years in competition, in collegiate athletics, are the same for the women." ... "Do we not feel an obligation to help prepare people for the workplace? A lot of that comes out of athletics. A lot of it does. That's how good it is. Or how good it can be."

Debbie Yow
Athletic Director, N.C. State

"Title IX is huge for sports but also it's helped move our nation to a place where we can accept women in the workforce as well. It's opened up a lot of jobs for women. We had a female run for president in Hillary Clinton."

Candace Parker
Olympic gold medalist, All-American for Tennessee and first woman to dunk in an NCAA tournament game

"I couldn't really imagine growing up in a world where someone said, `No, you can't play basketball because you're a female,' or can't do something else. It's important for us to take a minute and appreciate [the changes]." ... "There's just so many ways my life would be different."

Maya Moore
Two-time NCAA champion at Connecticut, where she is the Huskies' all-time leading scorer 
 

"In the early `70s, when all this came about, I was a senior in high school. The idea of women actually being athletes, female athletes, that wasn't a word that you would use back then. ... Fast forward to Maya Moore. The idea you'd think of Maya Moore as something other than a great athlete is just absurd." ... "Today, my son's 23. If you ever told him women didn't play basketball or weren't great athletes, after all the practices of mine he's watched, he'd say to you, `What world are you living in?'"

Geno Auriemma
Hall-of-Fame coach who has led Connecticut to seven NCAA titles, including four perfect seasons

 

"Players today expect that it's going to be equal. And I think that's a really good thing, that they expect they're going to be treated the same as the guys." ... "It's really amazing how far we've come from the days of driving ourselves to away games. Not having sneaker contracts. Not having per diems."

Muffet McGraw
Head coach at Notre Dame, which has made back-to-back appearances in the NCAA title game 

 

"It's kind of funny because I have two older brothers and I turned out to be the super jock in the family. I'm so blessed I had the opportunity to do so and play the game at so many levels and travel the world." ... "It's scary to think about the effects long-term [of softball being dropped from the Olympics] and what's going to happen to our sport in eight or 16 years." ... "It's so important to educate and share that these opportunities can be taken away if we don't keep pushing and breaking down barriers and fighting."

Jennie Finch
Two-time Olympian in softball and 2004 gold medalist, set NCAA record with 60 consecutive wins