50 Ways Women’s Athletics has Changed in 50 years
By Tim Bourret
Photography provided by Clemson Athletics
In June 1972, President Nixon signed Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 into law.
What does Title IX say exactly? “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.” Put simply, it prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.
Title IX has affected almost every facet of the University, but none at quite the level that it has affected Clemson Athletics. Some things changed quickly; others have progressed more gradually. Here are 50 specific things that have happened in the realm of women’s athletics since the passing of Title IX.
Three years after the passing of Title IX, Athletic Director Bill McClellan announced in September 1975 the elevation of basketball, fencing, swimming and tennis as the first women’s varsity sports. By 1977, volleyball and field hockey were added. Currently, over 300 student-athletes participate in 11 varsity women’s sports. It will grow to 12 in 2023-2024 with the addition of gymnastics.
Clemson currently has eight women as head coaches and 10 women who are full-time assistant coaches.
Separate Coaching Staffs for Each Sport.
This seems obvious today, but in 1975-1976, the first year of women’s varsity sports at Clemson, Mary K. King was simultaneously the head coach of the basketball team and the tennis team.
NCAA Academic Progress Rate Recognition.
Five different Clemson women’s sports programs have received NCAA APR recognition for ranking in the top 10 percent nationally in five-year graduation rates 13 times over the years. The women’s golf program has been honored six times.
National Championship Performances.
Clemson’s first individual national champion was Tina Krebs, who in 1983 won the indoor 1,000-meter race. Overall, Clemson women boast 18 individual national championship performances, (13 in track, four in swimming and one in rowing), 39 ACC team championships and 10 Olympic medalists.
Women in the Ring of Honor.
Four female athletes have been inducted into the Ring of Honor, the highest honor bestowed on a former student-athlete or coach. The list includes Barbara Kennedy (women’s basketball), Susan Hill (women’s tennis), Tina Krebs (women’s track) and Dee Arrington (women’s soccer).
On the Radio.
Since the 1990 NCAA Tournament, all Clemson women’s basketball games are broadcast on radio.
Clemson home softball games are sold out with season tickets.
Facilities for Women’s Athletics.
Clemson has significantly invested in facilities for women’s athletic teams, most recently $13 million to build the McWhorter Softball Stadium, completed in 2020 with a capacity of 1,616.
Champions in the ACC.
Women’s basketball won two ACC Championships, 1996 and 1999, the second and third league basketball titles in Clemson basketball history, men or women.
Over 25 Clemson women’s athletic events are televised nationally by the ACC Network each year.
The ACC named the top 50 female athletes in the first 50 years of the conference (selected in 2003). Six former Clemson athletes were included: Gigi Fernández (tennis), Kim Graham (track), Barbara Kennedy (basketball), Mitzi Kremer (swimming), Tina Krebs (track) and Cindy Stern (volleyball).
Alumni Success in the Pros.
Former tennis player Julie Coin brought great attention to the University when she recorded one of the great upsets in the history of the United States Open in 2008 when she defeated No. 1 ranked Ana Ivanovic in the first round. Coin was ranked No. 188 in the world when she pulled off the upset.
Domination at the ACC Championship.
The 1983 women’s tennis team, coached by Andy Johnston, won the ACC Championship in the most dominant fashion in ACC tennis history. The team won all nine flights of the championship, the only time that has happened in men’s or women’s league history.
NCAA Final Four.
The women’s tennis team under coach Nancy Harris became the first Clemson women’s team to reach the Final Four of an NCAA Tournament in 2004 and repeated that feat in 2005. Harris led the program to 13 consecutive top-25 seasons.
Female student-athletes receive tutorial help from student-athlete services just as the men’s teams have for many years. The program was enhanced in 1991 when Vickery Hall was built and Bill D’Andrea became director of the program for all student-athletes.
Women’s athletic teams fly to many road events just as their male counterparts do. Many of the flights are charter flights, which make the road trips more efficient and keep missed classes to a minimum.
Playing Augusta National.
Alice Hewson became the first Clemson women’s golfer to play Augusta National in a tournament when she finished 10th at the 2019 Augusta Women’s Amateur. She shot an even-par 72 on the famed course in the tournament’s final round.
In its first full year, Clemson Softball won the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season championship and has advanced to the NCAA Tournament each of the last two years.
Taking Succcess to a New Level.
Erin Batth, a student-athlete from 1997-2001, is assistant women’s basketball coach at Michigan after being on the coaching staff of N.C. State during their three years of ACC Championship success. She was named one of the most impactful high major assistant coaches in women’s college basketball by Silver Waves Media in 2022.
Susan Hill was the first Clemson multiyear
All-American. She was a four-time Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women All-American selection during her Clemson tennis career (1976-1980) and was the first Clemson player to
be a four-time No. 1 singles ACC champion.
In 1983, Tina Krebs became Clemson’s first women’s NCAA Champion in any sport when she won the 1,000 meters at the NCAA Indoor Championship in Syracuse, New York. She also won the indoor 1,500 meters at the 1985 NCAA Championships and the indoor mile in 1986.
Academic and Athletic Success.
Marisa Messana was a four-year golfer from 2014-2018. In 2017, she helped Clemson reach its first NCAA National Tournament Appearance, where she won the Elite 90 Award for the golfer with the top career GPA among NCAA national tournament participants.
40 Percent Participation.
In 1972, only 1 in every 27 female students played high school varsity sports. Today, 2 in 5 female students participate in varsity sports.
Sam Staab, an all-conference player from 2015-2018, was the fourth selection of the National Women’s Soccer League draft in 2019. She was the second rookie in league history to play every minute of every match. In 2021, she was a starter on the Washington Spirit team that won the NWSL Championship.
NCAA Three-point Shooting Champion.
Amy Geren won the NCAA three-point shooting championship at the 1999 Final Four in a competition televised nationally by ESPN. She defeated future longtime NBA player Jason Terry to win the overall championship.
Tennis player Gigi Fernández advanced to the championship match of the NCAA Individual tournament as a freshman in 1983.
South Carolina Hall of Fame Representation.
Former Clemson athletes in the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame include Barbara Kennedy and Tina Krebs and coach Annie Tribble.
Jody Trucks overcame an auto accident in 1981 that severed her left foot and broke two neck vertebra. In 1983, she won the No. 5 ACC Singles Championship, helping women’s tennis capture the overall team title..
Kelly Gramlich set the school record for most three-point goals made in a game (eight). She is now one of the lead broadcasters for women’s basketball on ESPN and the ACC Network.
Today, Clemson has an equitable budget
for paired teams (e.g., basketball, tennis,
golf, track and field, cross country,
baseball and softball).
Annie Tribble was a legendary women’s basketball coach who is in the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame. She coached from 1976-1987 and guided the Lady Tigers to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 1982. She was an advocate for women’s athletics during the infancy of women’s sports at Clemson and advised athletic directors Bill McLellan and Bobby Robinson.
Jodi Steffes, the first four-time All-Region volleyball player in Clemson history (1998-2001), is in her seventh year in athletic administration at Furman University. She was promoted to associate athletic director for administration and development and named Furman’s new senior women’s administrator in 2019.
In 2000, Clemson defeated the nation’s No. 1 ranked team in women’s soccer with a victory over North Carolina.
Broadening the Ring of Honor.
Deliah Arrington became Clemson’s all-time leading scorer in soccer and her sport’s first inductee into the Ring of Honor.
ACC Championship in Rowing.
Clemson Rowing, established in 1998, won the ACC Championship in 2009. The team finished a
program-best 12th place at the NCAA Championship that year.
First NCAA Championship All-American.
Cappy Craig was the first NCAA Championship All-American in any sport at Clemson, as she had a top-eight finish in the 1-meter and 3-meter diving competitions at the NCAA Championships in 1982.
First Swimming All-American.
Chris Daggitt was Clemson’s first All-American in swimming at the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women national competition in the 400 individual medley in 1977.
Mitzi Kremer won two NCAA Championships in 1987, the 200 and 500 freestyle events. She went on to be a 16-time All-American and won five ACC Championships. A member of the 1988 U.S. Olympic Team, she won a bronze medal.
Coach and Administrator.
Linda White coached the Clemson Volleyball team from 1986-1991, including a 30-7 season in 1989. She retired from coaching after the 1991 season to remain with the school as senior women’s administrator for many years.
Hall of Fame Rower.
Lucy Doolittle became the first Clemson rower inducted into the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame. She received the honor in 2008, just 10 years after the program was formed. In 2003, she was named to the ACC 50-year anniversary team, just two years after she became the program’s first All-American.
In the Classroom, On the Field.
Gisele Oliveira was a women’s track athlete who won a National Championship and was a six-time All-American. She is part of a small group of Clemson student-athletes recognized multiple times as All-Americans in both athletics and academics.
ACC’s First Volleyball All-American.
Cindy Stern was the ACC Player of the Year in 1999 when she was a second-team All-American, the ACC’s first volleyball All-American in history. She was a leader of Clemson’s ACC Championship teams of 1997 and 1999. In 2003, she was named one of the top 50 female athletes in ACC history.
Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame.
Sixty-one former Clemson female athletes have been inducted into the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame. Susan Hill (tennis) was the first in 1986.
In 2022, Clemson launched a philanthropy program called Hear Her Roar, which aspires to raise $50 million to support scholarships, state-of-the-art facilities and elevated experiences for female student-athletes.
Women’s Leadership Academy Established.
In 2022, Clemson announced the launch of POWER, a leadership academy for female student-athletes that develops personal identity, professional presence, self leadership and community leadership.
Championships Lead to Coaching.
Itoro Umoh-Coleman, one of Clemson’s greatest women’s basketball players, was a common denominator on the school’s two ACC Championship teams (1996 and 1999). This opportunity has led her to a now 20-year career in college coaching.
Track and field standout Brianna Rollins won gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics, gold at the 2013 World Championship in Moscow and three NCAA Championships at Clemson.
As women’s enrollment continues to increase, Clemson has added three women’s varsity sports since 2019: softball, lacrosse and gymnastics.
The Board of Trustees recently approved a $37 million expansion plan for new facilities for women’s lacrosse, gymnastics and rowing.