Title IX progress seen in NCAA women's basketball tournament, but room still left to improve

DURHAM, N.C. -- June 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the landmark legislation that prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or other education program that receives funding from the federal government.

Last year, the NCAA received criticism after Oregon player Sedona Price posted a video on TikTok, highlighting the inequities between the men's and women's tournaments.

"That obviously turned out to be a game changing situation," said NC State women's basketball head coach Wes Moore. "It was good that the light was shone on that."

Prince's viral moment sparked promises from the NCAA and sweeping changes from the governing body's president Mark Emmert. The video was a reminder of what that civil rights law passed in 1972 was designed to stop.

"I think Title IX was put in for a reason," said UNC women's head basketball coach Courtney Banghart. "I think there are men and women that support it very much."

Duke women's head coach Kara Lawson is one of a few coaches that have led and played on the Division I level. She explained how much advancement she's seen since she was a player at the University of Tennessee. "There's been a number of enhancements I think to the game. Each year I think the players are getting better, I think the exposure is getting better."

The biggest change came this year, when the NCAA announced that the women's tournament would also go under the famous moniker of "March Madness," long used exclusively for the men's tourney.

"I think it's great for the young ladies," said Moore. "I think it empowers them and gives them a lot of confidence when they're on this big stage."

Moore continued to explain that the regulations that we see as normal now, are direct results of some legendary pioneers of the women's game, who worked tirelessly to make things happen.

"You look back at the Kay Yows and the Pat Summitts and all the coaches before us that really did so much to make Title IX happen, and then also to grow from there and make sure Title IX kept advancing. We enjoy now all the fruits of their labors, it's just a whole different ball game now."

Although the game is in a better place, Lawson says there are still plenty of things she'd like to see going forward.

"I think you'd just like more of those things--more resources, more exposure, more people paying attention to what our sport has to offer."

ABC Owned Television Stations and ABC's Localish present 50 inspiring stories from around the country for Fifty/50, as part of The Walt Disney Company's monumental initiative highlighting the 50th anniversary of the passing of Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in any educational institution that receives federal funding, and gave women the equal opportunity to play.

The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of ESPN, Localish and this station.
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