Is Women Coaching Women a Thing of the Past? Or a Dramatically-Declining Course Desperately Needing Correction?

Published on September 7th, 2016

Before Title IX’s passage in 1972, 90% of the coaches of women’s college teams were women. Today, that number has drastically decreased to a dismal 43.4%. If female participation in sports has increased from one in 27 in 1972 to two in five now, the dramatic decrease in female coaches can only mean one thing:male coaches have reaped the opportunities that increased female participation in sports has provided.

Shannon Miller joined the coaching staff at University of Minnesota – Duluth (UMD) in 1998. In her 16 years with the University, Miller developed UMD’s women’s ice hockey program into a nationally-recognized powerhouse while winning five national championships and fostering numerous Olympians. Despite her accomplishments and accolades, the University announced in December that “Miller will not have her contract extended beyond the 2014-15 season, due to financial considerations.” Miller’s entire coaching staff was also terminated.

While the UMD firings might be the most media-visible story at present, it’s not the first, only or last. Also noteworthy is the firing of University of Iowa Field Hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum, for which we wrote a letter of support to the Office of Civil Rights, urging them to investigate the firing. You can learn more about Griesbaum’s case here. At Tufts University in Boston, the head coach of the men’s tennis team, Jamie Kenney, was fired from her position after suspending two players for alcohol violations, after which questions of gender equity in her athletic department rose to the surface. You can learn more about Kenney’s case here.

As the groundswell of these firings grows, we are urging university alumni, government leaders and those who care about the future of our girls to publicly question the reasons for these aforementioned firings – but also those who haven’t made the news. And we want to hear your stories, too. Are you:

  • The product of an impactful or meaningful female coach?
  • A coach who was treated unfairly in your college or university athletic department?
  • A coach who was wrongfully terminated by your college or university athletic department?
  • A female coach who wants to speak out about the importance of females coaching females?

If so, email us at with your story, providing your contact information so we are able to continue the conversation.

Young female athletes need strong, prominent female role models in their coaches. After all, they can’t be what they can’t see. Never has compliance of Title IX been more important. Never has it been more important for the public to insist academic and government leadership support gender equity for the safe and equal treatment of our daughters, female coaches and administrators, as promised under Title IX.