One of the pioneers of modern women’s sports is Debbie Yow, now the athletic director at the University of Maryland. Yow is a great favorite of mine. Under her leadership, the men’s basketball program has just won a national championship and the long-moribund football program has become a national power. Yow has not ignored women’s sports, either. When the women’s basketball team slipped, she hired (stole, some would say) the successful young female coach of the University of Minnesota’s team. On a local sports radio show, Yow pronounced her attractive new coach a “babe.”
Last week, it was Debbie Yow who proposed to the presidential commission considering Title IX reform that the current quota enforcement system be relaxed (not ended, just loosened). Although her proposal stopped far short of the reform I support, it was meaningful reform nonetheless. Unfortunately, it narrowly failed to pass, largely, I believe, because of shrill claims that Yow’s proposal would ruin women’s intercollegiate athletics. These claims came from sportswriters, feminists, and a few pampered female athletes. The contributions of these critics to women’s sports, if any, pale in comparison to Yow’s, and, to my knowledge, none of them has ever had responsibility for running the athletic program of a major college. Although the vote of the commission does not bind the Bush administration, the defeat of Yow’s modest proposal signals to me that reform of Title IX is not in the cards.
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