The Politics of Intercollegiate Athletics

Topics: Title Ix

This paper explores four topics: the evolution of intercollegiate athletics, the history of women’s collegiate athletics, the governance structure of the NAIA, and the NCAA’s transfer policy. For so many of us, intercollegiate athletics is a distinguished part of our weekends, whether that is attending games or watching from home. This was not always the case though, we’ll look at the history and evolution of intercollegiate athletics as they are today. When we look at the history of women’s collegiate athletics, we truly see how far they have come since when they first started.

Now at every college, you will have the same number of women’s collegiate sports as you do men’s. The NAIA’s governance structure is made up of a National Coordinating Committee that answer to the Council of Presidents, the head of the structure. There has been a proposal drafted that would allow athletes to transfer if their coach were to leave to take a new job or was fired.

This is not the proposal, but a proposal.

It’s a Saturday in September, and millions of families are sitting in their living rooms getting ready to watch the kickoff. How about a Saturday in March? People tune in to see if their bracket will make it through the hour. How is a day in mid-June? People are getting ready to witness the College World Series. Intercollegiate athletics is almost a tradition for most households. This wasn’t always the case though.

Get quality help now
Marrie pro writer

Proficient in: Title Ix

5 (204)

“ She followed all my directions. It was really easy to contact her and respond very fast as well. ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

Before 1850, intercollegiate sports played a minimal role in collegiate life. If there was any need for physical activity in the student regimen, college presidents and deans thought manual labor in the form of farming or clearing boulders from college lands fit the bill perfectly. (College Athletics – History Of Athletics In U.s. Colleges And Universities, n.d.) This didn’t catch with most of the students, so student bodies started devising intramural contests known as “clash rushes” (College Athletics – History Of Athletics In U.s. Colleges And Universities, n.d.). College presidents struggled to curb their interests in these contests, so college students started forming athletic associations that included means for raising money, charging fees, sponsoring events, and selling tickets. And, by the 1890s, at many colleges, alumni groups joined with these student organizations to create programs over which the college presidents and faculty exercised relatively little control. (College Athletics – History Of Athletics In U.s. Colleges And Universities, n.d.) The very first intercollegiate athletic event was a crew regatta in 1852 between Harvard and Yale. Since that time intercollegiate athletics has taken off in a big way. Athletics has now become a vital resource and a key part of nearly every higher education institution. So much of a college’s income comes from its athletic department. This past year, the University of Texas made $182.1 million from athletics alone (Gaines, 2017). One of the most controversial and most talked about questions about whether should student-athletes get paid, has been the focus of many conversations since the 1990s. With schools bringing in so much money from athletics and the athletes, should the players start being paid for all of their efforts? When you look back at the history of intercollegiate athletics, the fact that we have made it to the point that we are discussing whether or not these student-athletes should be paid is remarkable. It’s impressive that we see what started as a contest that students started has now become a multi-million dollar business. Truly a remarkable change in the past 166 years of how intercollegiate athletics has evolved.

Title IX states that “No person in the United States shall, based on sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Women’s opportunities for competitive physical activity were limited in America until Federal Legislation, commonly referred to as Title IX, became law. (A History of Women in Sports Before Title IX, 2008) Before 1870, activities for women were recreational rather than sport-specific. They were non-competitive, informal, and rule-less; they highlighted physical activity rather than competition. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, women began to form athletic clubs (A History of Women in Sport Before Title IX, 2008). Early college sports for women have been largely unrecognized by historians because the competition was within college between students, referred to as intramural, rather than between the institutions, referred to as extramural. (A History of Women in Sports Before Title IX, 2008) By 1936, 70% of colleges surveyed used this as the main form of sports participation for women. Women were not active in intercollegiate sports until basketball was introduced at Smith College in 1892. (Lewis, 2017) The team was organized by Senda Berenson, adapting Naismith’s original rules to emphasize cooperation, with three zones and six players on each team. The very first women’s college basketball game was between Stanford and the University of California at Berkeley where Stanford won, 2-1. Men were excluded, with women guarding the windows and doors to exclude men (Lewis, 2017). Things started to change for women’s collegiate athletics when in 1971, the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) was formed. The Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women created a model for student-athletes that was different than what the NCAA had created for male athletes. (Matthiessen) The AIAW went head to head with the NCAA for many years over the issue of Title IX. In 1982, the AIAW was forced to merge with the NCAA. After Title IX, women and girls have become much more involved in sports. College women’s athletic participation has increased from 15% in 1972 to 43% in 2001. (A History of Women in Sports Before Title IX, 2008) Before Title IX, one in 27 girls played sports. Today that number is two in five. (Olmstead, 2016) You can see that women’s involvement in sports was slow to develop. Opportunities for involvement and recognition were almost non-existent for centuries. It was not until the beginning of the equal rights movements and Title IX that women truly found a place as participants in the world of sports.

The NAIA is a national association governing intercollegiate athletics in the United States. Initially formed to regulate intercollegiate basketball, the association was called the National Association of Intercollegiate Basketball (NAIB) until 1952. (Mary A. Hums) The NAIA is organized to govern its business through a series of councils and committees.

Cite this page

The Politics of Intercollegiate Athletics. (2022, Aug 12). Retrieved from

Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7