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Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women. Southern Region II (13 Jan 1969 - 2 Nov 1984) | Eastern Kentucky University - Special Collections and Archives

Name: Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women. Southern Region II (13 Jan 1969 - 2 Nov 1984)

Historical Note:

The Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW), and the corresponding AIAW Southern Region II, played a fundamental role in institutionalizing women's intercollegiate competition. After forming in 1972, the AIAW established competition networks and developed a sustainable competition strategy that animated women's athletics in the United States. The AIAW maintained a prominent role in intercollegiate organizing and competition until 1983, when it dissolved in response to the National Collegiate Athletics Association's (NCAA) involvement in monopolizing women's intercollegiate competition and the accompanying revenues.

Even though women's collegiate athletics had been loosely structured around on-campus intramural activities since the early 20th century, intercollegiate competition did not take place on a national scale until 1941. During this momentous first year the Department of Physical Education for Women organized a collegiate golf championship at the Ohio State University main campus. The resulting championship marked a major watershed moment for the modern U.S. women's intercollegiate athletics competition culture. The tournament quickly became an annual event once competitions resumed after WWII ended. In the decades that followed women athletes, their coaches and relevant professional and institutional affiliates began investigating the best methods for furthering women's intercollegiate competitions and sports programs.

In 1956, the need to establish a sustainable organization for assuring the continuation of the golf championship brought about the formation of a Tripartite Committee that included administrative appointments by the National Association for Physical Education for College Women (NAPECW), the National Association for Girls and Women's Sport (NAGWS), and the American Federation of College Women. The Tripartite Committee urged the continuation of the national collegiate golf competition, and subsequently underscored a demand for solving the challenges that coaches, athletes and supporters faced when expanding women's intercollegiate competitions. Upon the recommendation of the Tripartite Committee, the National Joint Committee on Extramural Sports for College Women (NJCESCW) was formed to help develop, guide and administer women's intercollegiate athletic programs.

The Commission of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (CIAW) eventually grew out of the NJCESCW. The CIAW sought to expand available championships and preserve women's intercollegiate athletics governance under the auspices of one organization, the Division for Girls and Women's Sports (DGWS), a subsidiary that operated under the American Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation (AAHPER). The CIAW provided a framework and organization pattern for the conduct of intercollegiate athletic opportunities for women, and sponsored national championships for college women under the guidance of the DGWS.

The AIAW developed from the CIAW in response to an clearly articulated need for sustainable institutional membership practices and effective elected representation. Formation of the AIAW was approved by both the DGWS Council and the AAHPER Board of Directors in 1971, but the CIAW continued to operate until July 1, 1972, at which time the AIAW officially came into existence. The official CIAW to AIAW transition came during an official transition meeting held on June 1-4, 1972. The inaugural AIAW Delegate Assembly then took place the following year, on November 4-6, 1973. On June 1,1979, the AIAW assumed a separate legal identity and became a nonprofit corporation in the District of Columbia. During its successful ten years of involvement in women's intercollegiate sports, the AIAW organized and administered all major competitions at the regional and national levels. In 1981-82 the organization offered 41 national championships in 19 sports - badminton, basketball, crew, cross country, fencing, field hockey, golf, gymnastics, indoor track and field, lacrosse, skiing, soccer, softball (fast and slow pitch), swimming and diving, synchronized swimming, tennis, track and field, and volleyball.

The AIAW recognized nine official organizations of regional governance. Southern Region II Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women was composed of schools in Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Southern Region II goals were to "foster broad programs of women's intercollegiate athletics...provide opportunities for women's intercollegiate varsity competition...[and create] an avenue of communication between state organizations and AIAW." Region II missions also included carrying out AIAW national agendas, determining tournament guidelines, and perhaps most important, increasing "public understanding and appreciation of the importance and value of sports and athletics as they contribute to the enrichment of the life of female athlete."

The Region II Executive Board included a Regional Representative, Treasurer, Ethics and Eligibility chairperson, Student Representative, and Commissioner of Championships. Also included in the Board were the presidents from each participating state's intercollegiate women's athletics organization. The Regional Representative served as a voting member of the AIAW Executive Board. Five regional representatives led the Southern Region II of the AIAW, Jan Watson, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, N.C (1972-75), Mary Roland Griffin, Winthrop College, Rock Hill, S.C. (1975-77), Barbara Smith, Longwood College, Longwood, VA (1977-79), Becky Hudson, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY (1979-81), and Miriam Shelden, University of South Carolina, Spartanburg, S.C. (1981-83).

Following the NCAA's decision to offer Division I championships for women in 1981, the AIAW filed an anti-trust lawsuit against the developing athletics organization on October 9, 1981. During the AIAW Fall Executive Board Meeting held in Washington D.C. on October 13-16, 1981, Donna Lopiano, the acting AIAW President, discussed in detail the apparent violations and consequences that the AIAW faced. AIAW administrators and legal counsel concluded that the NCAA's pronouncement was a clear attempt to monopolize and control women's sports. AIAW legal representation charged that the NCAA used "its monopoly power in men's college sports to facilitate its entry into women's college sports...to force AIAW out of existence." Included in their reasoning was the clear and present realities that upon the NCAA decision the "AIAW would not be able to enforce its own rules," nor could it "match the three million dollar package of benefits offered by the NCAA." The resulting litigations proceeded until the spring of 1983.

In early March, 1983, Judge Thomas P. Jackson of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia ruled that the NCAA did not violate antitrust laws when they designed and approved a comparable program for women's championships. At the final AIAW Southern Region II Executive Board meeting on April 16, 1983, it was resolved that the AIAW Southern Region II be dissolved. After losing a substantial portion of their members and considerable revenue a Special Delegate Assembly voted on June 7, 1982 to also cease all AIAW operations on June 30, 1983. The Executive Committee of the AIAW appealed Judge Jackson's decision in November 1983, and lost their final strategic legal position on May 18, 1984.

The general attitudes that AIAW members and supporters shared after the ruling can be summed up in a few short lines that President Lopiano iterated. Lopiano lodged legitimate concerns that still echo in contemporary conversations when she declared the NCAA used "its financial monopoly in men's sports to acquire women's sports. And that [acquisition] wasn't coming with any promises to women about fair representation and their role in the NCAA." Perhaps the most telling interpretation of AIAW members' attitudes came from Christine Grant, an AIAW member who spoke at the 1981 NCAA Convention that initiated the dispute. Grant observed that in addition to contemporary Title IX legal interpretations that hindered women's athletics advancement, the AIAW v. NCAA dispute underscored how "the whole decade of the '80s was pretty much a downer...we [women] just seemed to be losing one thing after another."

Sources: *Information for this historical sketch comes from the 1981-82 AIAW Directory; the 1980-81 Southern Region II Handbook; two articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education, January 6, 1982 and March 10, 1982; and the minutes of the final meeting of Region II Executive Board, April 16, 1983, the AIAW Executive Board minutes for June 7, 1982. Additional quotes were borrowed from "Equal Opportunity Knocks : National Girls and Women in Sports Day celebrates 25th year," which was lifted from the world wide web @ http://www.ncaa.com/news/ncaa/2011-02-02/equal-opportunity-knocks. For complete details on the AIAW v. NCAA legal proceedings, see full appellate documents that are found in folder 1 of the AIAW Legal Series (1983-010-b. 30-f.1).
Note Author: Neil Kasiak and Nell Hensley

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