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IX AT 50: Before Title IX, 20 trailblazers launched women’s intercollegiate sports in Kansas

Published: Jan. 6, 2022 at 10:52 PM CST
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June 23, 1972, President Nixon signed Title IX into law, prohibiting sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding. Title IX has largely been considered the springboard for high school and collegiate women’s sports to get where they are today — but the fight for equality is far from over. Every Thursday night at 10:00 p.m. leading up to the 50th anniversary of the law’s passing, 13 Sports will honor the women who changed the game for girls’ and women’s sports in Kansas.

“IX at 50: The Trailblazers of Women’s Sports in Kansas”

EMPORIA, Kan. (WIBW) - The beginning of women’s intercollegiate sports in Kansas can be credited to a single meeting, four years prior to Title IX’s passing at a cabin in Emporia.

“At this beginning meeting, and in all the years that ensued, there were at least 20 women that I would call the pioneers of today’s modern day athletics and collegiate sports competition in Kansas,” Ginny Bevan, Kansas Wesleyan hall of famer, said. “We thought, we have a lot of young women who want to participate in a more inter-school sort of competition once they have finished and won their intramurals.”

Bevan was among 20 women physical education professors who took matters in their own hands.

“That is the beginning of what we called ‘AKWIS:’ Association for Kansas Women in Sport,” she said.

The following year, 1969, college women had a formal league to compete in.

Bevan coached volleyball, basketball and softball at Kansas Wesleyan until the mid-to-late 70s.

“We played KU, we played K-State, nobody recruited, nobody had budgets, but we played anyway,” she said. “We drove cars. I remember my students, we would buy our own t-shirts and have bake sales to get the money for purchasing our travel and our food.”

Title IX passed in 1972.

“The rest is sort of history,” Bevan said. “Title IX has really given us the opportunities to have the funding and the opportunities.”

The fight for equity was just beginning — but thanks to Bevan and the women at that historic meeting, women’s college sports in the Sunflower State already had a foundation to build upon.

“Sports provide a lot of opportunities for leadership, for teamwork, for individual growth, for setting goals,” Bevan said. “I’m just very pleased with women’s progress, but I do hope that it continues to grow.”

Bevan was inducted into Kansas Wesleyan’s Hall of Fame in 1987 and is the namesake of the school’s Female Athlete of the Year award.

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