Celebrating 50 years of Title IX at UNM

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The University of New Mexico was founded in 1889. The first men’s sports teams were established a couple years later in the early 1890s – but women had to wait another 80 years or so for their time on a court or field.

“The first year that we played volleyball was in 1973,” said Pam Allen, a retired coach. “We had a 16-team tournament. We played eight minutes of running time, or 15 points – whichever came first. How sad is that?”

Allen started coaching in 1969, three years before Title IX was introduced.

“Back in those days, I didn’t know that discrimination was a real word,” Allen said. “The honest truth is that the women in the northern part of the state were the ones that were opposed to having girls’ athletics and the bottom line was that they were opposed to having men coach girls and officiate their games.”

Other women said the girls’ needs could be met through “informal” extracurricular activities.

After Title IX was established, things started to change. The law, signed by President Richard Nixon in 1972, states:

“No one should be excluded from participation or face discrimination on the basis of sex in any education programs or activity receiving federal assistance.”

However, that didn’t mean discrimination went away overnight.

“I do know there were other women coaching across the state who really had to battle to get their equipment, their uniforms, their time in the main gym and those sorts of things,” Allen said. “I think now, for the most part, it is pretty equitable.”

Now, UNM has nine women teams. UNM’s Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez said it’s important to recognize the progress made over the past 50 years, but also the need for more change.

“I think a lot of people always talk away, we haven’t arrived there, we haven’t got there, and the reality is, there isn’t an end road,” Nuñez said.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden proposed several changes to Title IX, but the process to solidify those changes could take several months, if not longer.