The sports world is collectively celebrating the 50th anniversary of the signing of Title IX.
The 1972 landmark measure made it unlawful to “exclude from participation in, be denied benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any educational program or activity financial assistance” on the basis of sex or gender identity.
Title IX’s presence — which has allowed millions of girls and young women to engage in sports — is still being felt at HBCUs.
Nowhere has this been more embodied than at Fisk University.
In February, Fisk made history when the school announced it was establishing a gymnastics program — the first in HBCU history and the first in the state of Tennessee.
Corrinne Tarver, the new gymnastics coach at Fisk, explained how Title IX led to the creation of the program.
“It allows us to see the growth and expansion of women’s sports in college athletics,” said Tarver on the significance of Title IX. “We’re now making up such a huge portion…50% or close to it of all sports that are currently done in team gymnastics.”
Tarver said the growing popularity of women’s sports — more specifically gymnastics — opened the door for Fisk.
Also read: Fisk University announces launch of first HBCU women’s gymnastics team
She has expressed high hopes in building Fisk’s gymnastics team and showing that “an HBCU can go out there and be a strong contender.” She also eyes bringing publicity to the state of Tennessee and the school that will lead to an increase in funding for the institution.
Tarver noted that female athletes are continuing to get better and stronger, how programs are improving thanks to better funding and better recruitment, and that there is more parity in women’s sports.
“It’s so humbling to know we are the first,” she said. “We hope to not be the last. We want to be the benchmark and we want to be the example for other HBCUs to hopefully follow what we are doing.”