NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Ohio Valley Conference celebrated the 40th anniversary of Title IX this afternoon with a luncheon at the DoubleTree Hotel.
Each of the OVC’s 12-member institutions identified a pioneer in women’s athletics from their school to be honored during the year and celebrated at a home athletic event on their campus. Amongst the honorees in attendance today was Mrs. Bettye Giles, UT Martin’s Title IX representative.
Giles was a primary force in beginning the women’s athletic programs at UT Martin, spending 43 years with the school before retiring in 1995. She held joint appointments as an associate professor in the department of physical education and as director of women’s athletics. She also served as the university’s cheerleaders sponsor from 1952-73 and started the women’s tennis program in 1952 – serving as coach for eight years. She was instrumental in the development of athletic opportunities for women in Tennessee and the surrounding states.
A fixture at many UT Martin home sporting events, Giles’ presence is still very much evident across Skyhawk athletics. UT Martin’s softball field is named after the innovator and each year the school’s top female athlete is presented an award in Giles’ honor. Last year, a statue of Giles – along with UT Martin female pioneers Nadine Gearin and Pat Head Summitt – was unveiled outside of the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center.
Also attending today’s event was OVC pioneers Teresa Phillips of Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech’s Marynell Meadors, Belmont’s Betty Wiseman, Southeast Missouri’s Dr. Kala Stroup, Morehead State’s Laradean Brown, Murray State’s Margaret Simmons and Austin Peay’s Cheryl Holt. OVC Commissioner Beth DeBauche was in attendance while WKRN News 2 sports reporter Dawn Davenport served as the emcee.
“The OVC has a rich history of women’s athletics along with a bright future thanks to the commitment, passion and contribution of the trailblazers the conference is honoring as part of its Title IX celebration,” DeBauche said. “It is important to take time to appreciate the progress that has been made on the playing fields and in the classrooms as a result of the adoption of Title IX and commitment to ensuring students of either gender are not subject to any sort of discrimination under any education program or activity.”
Title IX – which was enacted by the United States Congress on June 23, 1972 – states that “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”