UNIVERSITY PARK — Martha Adams came to Penn State more than a decade before the university fielded its first non-intramural women’s sports team and almost two decades before Title IX legislation was passed.
Adams remembers when the White Building was female-only and known as “White Hall.” And she was a part of the discussions to bring extramural and varsity women’s sports to the university, serving as the head of women’s physical education in the early 1960s.
Tuesday night, Adams shared those experiences with a small group in the Penn State All-Sports Museum as part of a Title IX discussion panel along with former assistant athletic director Sue Delaney-Scheetz and current women’s head basketball coach Coquese Washington.
Passed in 1972, Title IX barred gender discrimination by schools receiving federal funding and paved the way for female equality on campuses nationwide in the classroom and on the athletic field.
Adams described herself as the “old guard” on the panel, coming to Penn State in 1954, and said the university already had 11 women’s teams before Title IX, making Penn State the envy of many other institutions.
“This member of the old guard is very proud of our women’s program as it is today,” she said.
By the time Washington was growing up in the ’80s, she said she fully expected to play college basketball and have her education paid for by scholarships, but even then she didn’t think she could make a living out of athletics.
She described sports as a means to get an education before moving on to another career.
Now that landscape has changed even more.
“Ninety percent of the girls we recruit think they’re going pro,” Washington said.
Delaney-Scheetz added that Title IX has been working the way it was intended. She said that six times the number of women play sports today than in 1972. It was a struggle to get the legislation passed, she said, but little by little women’s programs have chipped away, drawing more crowds and having more women playing sports and receiving scholarships.
“You can’t do everything at once, but you can get something done at once,” she said, adding that there is still more work to be done.
But Adams said she is hopeful the future will bring even more progress for women athletes and women’s sports.
“Soon we won’t even have to think about Title IX,” she said. “It will just be a generality.”
Matt Morgan can be reached at 235-3928. Follow him on Twitter @MetroMattMorgan