AKRON, Ohio – The University of Akron Department of Athletics will commemorate the 40th anniversary of Title IX with a number of special activities during the 2012-13 season, Zips Director of Athletics Tom Wistrcill announced Monday.
"Title IX has been a positive influence on intercollegiate athletics for 40 years and we are proud to celebrate this landmark legislation," Wistrcill said. "Women's athletics have played a prominent role at the University for more than 100 years. From the formation of the first club team to our three individual national champions, we have a long-standing tradition of success among our female student-athletes and look forward to recognizing all of their achievements."
The highlight of the festivities will coincide with the football team's homecoming game on Oct. 6 against Bowling Green at InfoCision Stadium – Summa Field at 2 p.m. (ET). All former Akron female student-athletes and club sport participants will be invited to an on-campus reception, starting at 10 a.m., and be recognized during the game.
Furthermore, in the days leading up to the event, GoZips.com will countdown the top 40 female athletes in Zips' history and fans will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite all-time program achievements on Facebook.
"The passage of Title IX opened the door for generations of young women, enhanced our athletic programs and assured advancement for females in all areas of intercollegiate athletics," said Senior Associate Athletics Director and Senior Woman Administrator Mary Lu Gribschaw. "As our senior woman administrator, I have been honored to witness the evolution of our female sports programs, including the addition of golf, soccer and swimming and diving in the past 14 years. We've continued to provide more and better opportunities for our female student-athletes, coaches and staff, and are committed to that in the future."
The Zips' history of female athletics dates back to 1889 with the formation of the first tennis club and is highlighted by a number of historic moments. Evelyn Hooker, who played on the men's golf team, became the first UA female to earn a varsity letter in 1942, and Jean Linton not only became the school's first female four-year letterwinner in rifle, but also became Akron's first female athlete to garner All-American honors, not once, but twice in 1961 and 1962.
Furthermore, all three of UA's individual national champions are female. Track's Christi Smith was the first to do so in 2000 by winning the women's heptathlon at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Another track star, Stevi Large followed suit by capturing gold in the women's hammer throw in 2009, the same year rifle's Jenna Compton brought home top gun honors in the air rifle.
In all, more than 1,300 female student-athletes have earned at least one letter at The University of Akron while 13 teams have captured Mid-American Conference Championships. Additionally, rifle – which is a co-ed sport – has won 12 league championships in its two disciplines during the last decade.
Akron currently sponsors 11 Division I female sports – including basketball, cross country, golf, rifle, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, indoor and outdoor track and field, and volleyball – and more than 180 female student-athletes.
Title IX was passed into law on June 23, 1972, and mandated gender equity in all educational institutions receiving federal funding. Title IX's impact reaches far beyond athletics, but the groundbreaking legislation is most often associated with providing sports opportunities for women.