50 Years of Title IX : Up First : NPR


In Eugene, Ore., there’s a gym that was built in 1969 exclusively for women. It’s in the basement of a University of Oregon PE building, between a cemetery and the university’s main library.

PEG REES: Basically, a one-basketball-court-sized gym that seated maybe a hundred people on some pull-out bleachers.

MARTIN: Peg Rees spent hours in that gym. She came to U of O as a freshman in 1973. It was just one year after Congress passed the federal law requiring equity in educational settings – Title IX. Peg joined the brand-new varsity women’s basketball team.

REES: I just loved the dynamic of being a part of a team.

MARTIN: Male basketball players at the U of O had their own playing space – McArthur Court. It was bigger and better by far than the women’s court. It had room for 9,000 fans but was still so intimate that the roar of a packed house could make the basket rim start to quiver.


UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Nice pass (inaudible).

MARTIN: By chance, in her freshman year, Peg’s team got an opportunity to play at McArthur Court. Usually the men’s JV team started before the wildly popular varsity team. But one night, the JV squad was on the road.

REES: So they said, let’s put the women there. So we played a game at 5 o’clock, as the fans are pouring in over the next two hours and just starting to cheer for a random team that they don’t know wearing green and yellow.

MARTIN: Green and yellow, of course, are the University of Oregon colors.

REES: By the time we were done with our game, thousands of people were in the gym, and it was electric. I’m 22 at this point and experiencing a crowd’s impact on a competition, really, for the first time in my life.

MARTIN: Peg doesn’t remember who her team was playing or even if they won, but she remembers what it felt like.

REES: I remember the experience and the reaction I had to having 8,000 people cheer when I made a basket. I was not a great runner, and I felt like when they came out of their seats for me, I could run all night. And it changed the way I played the game. It made me realize I had physical abilities I didn’t know I had before.


MARTIN: The words in the law are, quote, “no discrimination,” but what Peg felt and realized is the heart and soul of Title IX. Women had been denied athletic opportunities for so long because of claims ranging from, hey, it’s unattractive to watch women play sports to it’s just unsafe. Peg didn’t want to go back in the basement, but she had to wait.

REES: It was a slow process.

MARTIN: Fast forward to now. Oregon women’s basketball plays in a state-of-the-art arena. The coach is paid a million dollars a year, and star players can go pro in the WNBA. All this didn’t happen quickly, obviously, and it didn’t happen by chance. Title IX, after all, is just a law – a lever. It needs people to pull it to make it real.

I’m Rachel Martin. This is UP FIRST Sunday, and today we’re thinking about Title IX. Coming up, Benching the Patriarchy – the story of one woman who pushed to make that promise come true. But at what cost?


MARTIN: Here’s reporter Emily Harris.


SEDONA PRINCE: I got something to show y’all.

EMILY HARRIS, BYLINE: It’s the middle of March last year at the NCAA college basketball championship tournament.


PRINCE: This is our weight room.

HARRIS: University of Oregon basketball player Sedona Prince is on TikTok, showing her fans a small rack of light dumbbells. That’s it for the women’s weight room.


PRINCE: Let me show y’all the men’s weight room.

HARRIS: Her video cuts to a spacious room with a bunch of racks and benches and barbells for the men’s teams. Workers are setting up even more equipment. The contrast with that stack of a dozen hand weights is crystal clear.


PRINCE: Here’s our practice court, right? And then here’s that weight room. And then here’s all this extra space.

HARRIS: Sedona’s video went viral. It’s been viewed at least 12 million times. Ultimately, it helped expose a long list of inequities in the way the NCAA treats men’s and women’s teams.


PRINCE: If you aren’t upset about this problem, then you’re a part of it.


HARRIS: You might say that a lot of people have been a part of the problem for a long time. Inequities in college sports were supposed to have been fixed 50 years ago by Title IX. Title IX bans sex discrimination in education, including sports. It’s been federal law since 1972.


PATSY MINK: Although we had statutes on the books about equality and opportunity for everyone…

HARRIS: Representative Patsy Mink of Hawaii, the first woman of color elected to Congress, had introduced it to solve what she saw as a pretty basic problem.


MINK: …Girls and women were being left out systematically.

HARRIS: Schools didn’t have to follow the law overnight. They got a grace period – six years. But many fought back. Darrell Royal was head football coach at the University of Texas Austin when Title IX passed. Here’s how he put his concerns on a KUT radio special two years later.


DARRELL ROYAL: It’s a totally different philosophy. It’s a totally different approach. I just can’t tell you how different it would be, say, getting a basketball – ladies basketball team ready to play as contrasted to getting ready for the Texas-Oklahoma football game.

HARRIS: The president of UT Austin at the time, Stephen Spurr, was on the program too.


STEPHEN SPURR: I’ll agree with Darrell. It’s pretty hard to have a man-to-man defense when you’re dealing with a woman’s basketball team.


HARRIS: In the 50 years that Title IX has been law, it has changed rules and it has changed lives. And yet, as Sedona’s weight room video shows, there is still lots left to do because laws don’t change culture. People do – people who push to hold laws up to their promise. Over decades, many people all over the country have pushed hard using Title IX to make equity in sports reality. Some paid for their pushing.

JODY RUNGE: My bones are aching.

HARRIS: This story is about one of those people.

RUNGE: Let me turn the lights on here.

HARRIS: Her name is Jody Runge.

How old is this place?

RUNGE: 1894.

HARRIS: Jody owns a bed-and-breakfast in Portland, Ore., all done up to match the architecture.

RUNGE: And this would’ve been the family room, so they would shut these pocket doors.

HARRIS: In the dining room, I notice a framed newspaper clipping hanging on the wall. It’s almost hidden by an antique cabinet, so I walk over to take a closer look. The story is about a ceremony closing an old basketball arena, McArthur Court, 2 hours’ drive south at the University of Oregon. I asked Jodi about it.

Why is that tucked off in the corner?

RUNGE: Oh, I just put it over there because I used to serve breakfast in there, and it was just a way of people knowing a little different part of me, something to do with it (laughter).

HARRIS: ‘Cause I was just wondering if you’re, like, shy about that part of your life or trying to forget it or hide it.

RUNGE: I just think it’s in the past, and I think – you know, I don’t mind talking about it, but it’s still a scab that gets picked off, I think.

HARRIS: Jody’s Title IX story didn’t start out as a wound, and it began a long way away from Portland in the little town of Waukon, Iowa, a dot on the state’s northeastern farmland.

RUNGE: So I can milk cows and bale hay and know how to drive a tractor and all that stuff.

HARRIS: Her grandparents and many of her friends lived on farms, but Jody grew up in a new subdivision on the edge of town.

RUNGE: Three-bedroom ranches that were very similar to one another.

HARRIS: In middle school, Jody began to stand out. She went from tall to taller.

RUNGE: I went, over the summer, from 5’9″ to 6’2″ from sixth to seventh grade.

HARRIS: That’s when she started playing competitive basketball, encouraged by her dad. He’d played for the University of Iowa. Now he refereed all the local sports he could around Waukon in between his duties in the classroom.

RUNGE: My dad was a teacher. He put a basketball hoop up in the driveway and said, if we wanted to go to college, we’d better get out there ’cause he wasn’t going to be able to afford to pay for us to go.

HARRIS: Iowa was a special place for girls’ basketball, and it had been for a long time. Back in the 1930s, Iowa was just one of a few states that had high school girls’ teams. The rules were really different from what we play today.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: In 1934, girls started playing a two-court, six-on-six game that put three forwards and three guards on each side of a center line they weren’t allowed to cross.

HARRIS: Players had to stay on their end of the court. They could dribble just twice, and only the forwards could score.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Why not the full-court, five-player game that the boys played? The boys’ game was considered just too strenuous for the so-called weaker sex.

HARRIS: Is six-on-six just a relic of, like, girls shouldn’t work hard?

RUNGE: Yep. Shouldn’t – can’t – aren’t physically, you know, capable of doing that, I think. I would say at this point it would be completely discriminatory.

HARRIS: But six-on-six was really popular when Jody was growing up, and she liked playing. She was a forward, always on offense scoring points.

RUNGE: I remember one game, I think I might’ve scored, like, 82, 83 points. To score that many points in a game is just ridiculous (laughter).

HARRIS: Kind of fun.

RUNGE: Well, kind of fun, but…

HARRIS: Ridiculous or fun, the fans loved it. They filled the high school gym and packed the stands at the state championships.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Veterans Auditorium, Des Moines, Iowa, March 10, 1979. The excitement is at fever pitch.

HARRIS: 1979, the 60th annual Iowa Girls State Basketball Championship. The governor was watching, and Waukon High School had made it for the first time.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: No one gave them much of a chance in their second-round game against the state’s top-rated team. All they did was lead most of the game before losing a heartbreaker. And here’s my good friend…

HARRIS: Jody led her team as they marched onto the floor in white sleeveless tops and shorts and long black socks.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Northeast Iowa, Coach Bob Thompson and the Waukon Indians.


HARRIS: Even though her team lost in the second round, Jody was named an all-state player. She made all-state her senior year, too. This and all her scoring got the attention of the coach at the University of Kentucky, and Jody won a scholarship to go there. She was part of the early wave of women to benefit from Title IX this way. When Jody arrived, women’s basketball had had varsity status for only six years, but the program was strong. Teammate Valerie Still, who went on to become one of the first women to play pro basketball in the U.S., remembers Jody showing up.

VALERIE STILL: She looked like she was about 6’7″ ’cause she had tons of hair and just – like, she always came in shoulders back – like, it was strange seeing – most girls that height, you know, you’re slunched over, you – but she always exudes this, just, air of, like, confidence. She just had this air about herself. And so, shoulders back, you know, chest out, chin up.

HARRIS: During Jody’s four years at Kentucky, the team made national playoffs three times, had four straight winning seasons and won their conference championship. But the players didn’t get championship rings. That was just done for the men.


HARRIS: After she graduated, Jodi wanted to stay in the game, but there were no options to go pro without leaving the U.S. for places like Europe or Asia, so she decided to pursue the other available option – coaching. She bounced around filling assistant coaching positions – Florida, Alabama, Colorado, Missouri. Then one day she got a call from a senior associate athletics administrator at the University of Oregon.

BARBARA WALKER: I was always on the lookout for really special young women who had an interest in coaching.

HARRIS: Barbara Walker had worked with Jody in Alabama.

WALKER: The pool was very small. When you had an opening for a coach for a women’s sport, if you had 100 applicants, 90 of them were men.

HARRIS: The University of Oregon wasn’t part of Jody’s plans.

RUNGE: Hadn’t been on my radar at all.

HARRIS: It was 1993. Title IX was two decades old and had led to change. The average number of women’s varsity teams per school had more than tripled since before the law was passed. But some schools dragged their feet. Even though she didn’t know much about the U of O’s approach, Jody decided the job was worth moving halfway across the country.

RUNGE: It was a head job, and I was just ready to be a head coach and do things my way.

HARRIS: Twenty-one years after the passage of Title IX, Jody became the University of Oregon’s first full-time female coach for women’s basketball.


RICH BROOKS: Fit the bill for what we needed.

HARRIS: Rich Brooks was Oregon’s athletic director at the time.

BROOKS: They tried to change a little culture and get more in line, if you will, with Title IX by hiring a female rather than a male.

HARRIS: Ten years before Jody arrived, Oregon women’s basketball had seemed on the way to creating a winning program. It had one of the best players in the nation then – Bev Smith. She’d led Oregon to the playoffs and brought in large crowds to watch women’s basketball. But the U of O didn’t build on what Bev started. Instead, the university continued to underfund the sport. It showed. When Jody arrived, Oregon had had a run of losing seasons. The first thing she did was lay down strict rules for her players.

RUNGE: My one rule was, you know, if you’re late, it’s a mile a minute.


HARRIS: That’s four laps around the track for each minute a player’s late to practice. This was punishment. Basketball players sprint.

Around the country, other women-led basketball teams were on the rise. Tennessee, where Pat Summitt had built her program into a true powerhouse. At Stanford, Tara VanDerveer had turned a losing team into national champs in just five years. Jody wanted to join this club, but she’d inherited a team that had just tied for last place in the Pac-10. She knew people were skeptical.

RUNGE: You know, I was an assistant coach, and they didn’t know anything about me or what I was bringing.

HARRIS: At the games, Jody stood out in high heels and smart suits, put together, ready for business. She rarely sat down on the sidelines. She was there to win. Players like star freshman Arianne Boyer loved it.

ARIANNE BOYER: My first game, I think we had about 750 fans in attendance. But over the season, the women’s team did really well, and we made it to the NCAA tournament. So going from 750 to 7,000 – however many it was – that was pretty exciting.

HARRIS: Jody stopped Oregon’s losing streak her first year on the job. Not only did they make it to the NCAA playoffs, but her Pac-10 colleagues voted her coach of the year. She remembers thinking that this honor would help her build her program.

RUNGE: Well, I thought it would be great for recruiting.

HARRIS: Recruiting’s a huge part of your job.

RUNGE: Absolutely.


RUNGE: Probably the biggest part.

HARRIS: Why is it so important?

RUNGE: Well, because it’s – you know, you can’t win the race without the racehorse. I mean, you can plug some holes with kids that, you know, aren’t All-Americans or whatever, but to be successful at the highest level, you’ve got to have the talent. I mean, there’s just no getting around that.

HARRIS: But Jody had a problem that hurt recruitment. She wasn’t paid very much – 42,000 her first year, the lowest in the Pac-10 for women’s basketball by $10,000. And her contract had to be renewed each year. This wasn’t just important for her personally. For coaches, these kind of details can make or break a program.

RUNGE: The other coaches were saying, hey, you don’t want to go to Oregon. She’s not going to be there. They don’t pay her. She doesn’t have a multiyear contract.

HARRIS: Would people actually say to you, like parents…

RUNGE: Are you going to be there for my daughter?

HARRIS: They would say that to you?

RUNGE: Absolutely.

HARRIS: What would you say?

RUNGE: I can say that I love it here, that I’m fighting to be here. You know, I’m fighting to get a multiyear contract to demonstrate that I want to be here for your daughter. Rich Brooks was the AD at the time. I went to him and, you know, felt like he was a friend and said, hey, I don’t need a raise. I know we don’t have any money but, you know, a multiyear contract would be really helpful here. And it was an immediate response of, we don’t do that for women’s sports.

HARRIS: At that time, only two coaches at Oregon had contracts longer than one year – football and men’s basketball. Their budgets were also massively more than any other sport.

Athletic director Rich Brooks says Jody wasn’t being singled out. He says the pay issue had nothing to do with gender.

BROOKS: Everybody was not well-paid at Oregon.

HARRIS: Over his time there, Rich had watched the University of Oregon cut men’s teams from its budget. Many schools claimed that was the only way they could meet the equal opportunity requirements of Title IX.

BROOKS: We dropped baseball. We dropped men’s gymnastics. Swimming was cut. And everything was in a state of change, obviously because women were trying to get support and aid, which they deserved.

HARRIS: Jody didn’t want just support and aid. She’d set her vision on full equity throughout the system. But two decades after Title IX was signed, she was mired in battles for basic equity. She would have to rent vans and drive the women’s team in situations when the men were getting chartered buses. Women were stuck with practice slots that were so early they cut into sleep, or they were right in the middle of prime class time. Women got fewer referees at games. Little injustices like these may seem trivial, but they add up, and they make everything just a little harder. The locker room really irritated Jody. Women had to cross a hallway between the showers and their lockers, a hallway that male athletes and the staff used, too. Even Rich Brooks thought it was bad.

BROOKS: The women’s locker room was the absolute worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life. There were hooks and nails, and it was right next to the training room. And it was awful.


HARRIS: Inequities like these still sparked fights across the country, but perhaps the biggest battle raging was over coaches’ pay. Some schools had started to increase it, but in general, women’s basketball coaches were paid far less than men’s. Title IX doesn’t specifically say that salaries have to be equal, but…

RUNGE: Title IX says that you are required to ensure quality coaching for women’s sports. Well, how do you define that, by what you pay?


HARRIS: At the end of her first year, Jody had to negotiate her next year’s contract. This would be her first chance to get real support from the school to move her vision of a great basketball program into action. But talks with Rich went nowhere. Soon, she was working without a contract. She turned to Title IX for help, and she called a lawyer. In the early 1990’s, lawsuits citing Title IX had been popping up at many schools, in part because courts had decided that sex discrimination cases could win compensation.

In one closely watched coaching case, the University of Southern California’s women’s basketball coach sued. She wanted the same pay for the same work as the male coach of the men’s team. But she lost. The Ninth Circuit Court decided those two jobs were not equal because the men’s coach had to do events and media appearances because men’s basketball was expected to bring in revenue. Women’s basketball was not.

RUNGE: Like, that’s apples and oranges. Men’s and women’s basketball is apples and oranges. It’s two different things because you don’t make revenue.

HARRIS: Many schools drew a line between sports that brought in money and sports that only spent it. This helped them argue that football budgets shouldn’t be counted in equity calculations under Title IX. It also helped them argue that they shouldn’t have to spend money marketing sports that don’t bring in cash. Jody saw all this as a vicious circle that trapped women’s basketball instead of giving it a chance.

RUNGE: Well, because you don’t charge as much for the tickets. You know, it’s like the never-ending chase-the-tail argument.

HARRIS: In her contract, Jody wanted a salary that acknowledged her skill and her success. She also wanted university commitments to promote and market women’s basketball so her team could have a shot at becoming a moneymaking sport. Basically, she wanted a contract that changed expectations. Rich didn’t offer that kind of support, but he says he dug up what he could for Jody personally.

BROOKS: I said, I think I got $1,500 from Phil Knight.

HARRIS: The co-founder of Nike and a powerful University of Oregon alum.

BROOKS: So I gave her $1,500 – I said, now, listen, don’t tell anybody ’cause, you know, we’re on a hiring freeze.

HARRIS: Rich wanted to negotiate one-on-one – no lawyers. Jody saw the problems as systemic, so the stakes were too high for that. They hit an impasse. Top university administrators got involved, and Rich decided this fight wasn’t worth his time.

BROOKS: And I said, well, I’m going to make it real easy for you. I’m going to let you guys decide ’cause I resign effective immediately, and I’m going to go coach football. You guys do whatever you want with Jody, and I’m done.

HARRIS: After Rich resigned, Jody signed a contract with a small raise, reserving her right to sue under Title IX. A year later, after her second winning season, she finally landed a four-year contract. Her pay was still less than half of what the men’s coach made, but she got a raise that almost doubled her base salary, with bonuses for making playoffs, and the university promised to market and promote the women’s team.

RUNGE: Looking back at it, for me, it was just about what we needed to be successful. And then that changed when Bill came in.

HARRIS: Bill is Bill Moos. He came in as the University of Oregon’s athletic director in 1995, soon after Jody signed that contract. Title IX had passed right before his senior year in college.

BILL MOOS: You were in the training room – you were naked, you know? No big deal – or you had a jock on ’cause there were no female trainers.

HARRIS: Culture clash, next on Benching the Patriarchy. I’m Emily Harris for UP FIRST Sunday. Stay with us.


HARRIS: After Jody Runge got that four-year contract, she was finally in a position to bring in top recruits. She had an eye on one rising star who was getting national attention but happened to live in a small town nearby – Powers, Ore.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: A small town with big dreams, Powers, Ore., is not unlike most shoebox cities along the coast – corner stores, a gas station. But this town has a claim to fame, especially among Oregonians. This is Mowe’s town.

HARRIS: Mowe is Jenny Mowe. Eventually, she’d become the first University of Oregon player drafted to the WNBA. Jenny’s family lived on a farm.

RUNGE: Cow poop everywhere, muddy, sloshy.

HARRIS: Jody and an assistant coach drove south through logging country from Eugene, then up a forest road to Jenny’s farm.

JENNY MOWE: I remember they were both in green, like, tracksuits. They knew not to wear their pumps and their (laughter) – you know, and I’m in a flannel shirt, running around with horses and – oh, this is – I’ve got a dirt basketball court that I used to shoot hoops at.

HARRIS: Jenny liked Jody right away.

MOWE: Just knowing that she was from small town – kind of the same roots thing. And I was reading in the papers more and more and read how she was, you know, kind of fighting for women’s rights and Title IX and all this stuff.

HARRIS: Jenny was a strong addition to Jody’s increasingly talented team. In 1997 – Jenny’s first season at Oregon, Jody’s fourth – the team made the playoffs again – fourth year in a row.


UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Starting lineups in Knoxville, Ore., led by Jody Runge will start…

HARRIS: In the second round, Oregon faced defending champion Tennessee on Tennessee’s home turf. Fans packed the stands.


UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: And then for Pat Summitt’s Lady Volunteers, home squad we talked about…

HARRIS: Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt was already a legend in women’s basketball. The camera shows Pat on the bench, watching play intensely. Then it pans to Jody, just as intense, standing on the sidelines.


UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: There’s a good look at Jody Runge – just her fourth year, 77 and 36, a 68% winning percentage. When she got there four years ago, they hadn’t won in four years. She’s done a remarkable job.

HARRIS: National media was paying attention and so was local. Eugene sports columnist Ron Bellamy had come to Tennessee to watch what the team could do. He caught a glimpse of Jody.

RON BELLAMY: I’m sitting behind the mascot at one end and she’s coming out of this long tunnel at the other end, followed by her two assistant coaches. She’s 6’3” and she’s got her heels on, so she’s 6’5” probably. She’s walking ramrod straight out into that arena. And I’m thinking, if you’re a player, you’d follow that anywhere.


UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Seventy-six, 59 – your final. Tennessee moves on.

HARRIS: Oregon lost. But every element on display in the women’s tournament – skilled play, big crowds, national TV broadcasts, Jody’s career – everything had been set in motion by Title IX.



RUNGE: Come on, Green. Run.

HARRIS: Later that year, a Eugene TV station ran a long profile about Jody.



RUNGE: Hey, now, listen. Listen. When the ball changes hands, you’ve got to run. Don’t stand and wait for somebody to get out of your way. Just run.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: She expects a lot, gives a lot.

HARRIS: The story focused on Jody’s success as a coach, but even more on her impatience for equal opportunity and her willingness to fight any battle necessary for that.


RUNGE: Had to make some hard choices about, you know, going toe-to-toe with our administration about those issues. It was difficult, but I couldn’t look in the mirror and feel like I could be a good role model and not make these choices.

HARRIS: Jody was upfront about her tough approach, and she was confident enough to let a writer into the team’s inner circle one season. When the resulting book came out in 1997, it showed Jody’s skill and her passion and it put her tightly-wound, aggressive side on full display. The book described her as often angry. It included stories about her sharply criticizing players and embarrassing them publicly. Jody says she’d call things as she saw them, and she says it was part of her responsibility to be straightforward with her players.

RUNGE: My assistants would tell me often that the kids don’t even think you, like, go to the grocery store, that they’re not seeing that soft underbelly side of you very often. It’s certainly there, but there’s very little gray area with me. That that comes off harsh or that comes off unapproachable or scary – I don’t know.

HARRIS: That soft underbelly – it felt to her like the double bind that many women in male-dominated industries know. Jody delivered wins, but that wasn’t enough. She was expected to show a gentle side too. She tried not to pass this expectation onto her players. And in recruiting, she’d look for young women who’d go to war. She found that in Shaquela Williams.

SHAQUALA WILLIAMS: Oh, man, I think I was born with a basketball in my hand.

HARRIS: In the late ’80s and early ’90s, Shaquela played on neighborhood courts in Portland and on boys teams because that’s what was available.

WILLIAMS: I was used to getting beat up, knocked against the wall, but you only had one chance. If you wanted to play, you had to keep getting up.

HARRIS: In Jody, Shaquela said she found a coach who valued her.

WILLIAMS: She never asked me to be someone else. Like, she saw that toughness, she saw that fire, she saw that red in my eyes. And she goes, you need to understand how to harness, you know, certain things. But don’t lose that desire. Don’t lose that red.


HARRIS: Jenny Mowe says Jody stood up for the team’s needs, like getting the right gear. Nike sponsored the university’s athletic teams, so everyone was supposed to wear their shoes, but Jenny couldn’t find any that fit.

MOWE: My feet are really big, but they’re really narrow and skinny. And so I just kind of float around in Nikes. So I was wearing Adidas for the game but then taping over (laughter) – it was so – taping over the three lines.

HARRIS: Jody took Jenny to Nike headquarters.

MOWE: They had me stand on some super high-dig (ph) scale or something and they fit my footprint with the best shoe. So, yeah, I mean, that was all something that we admired about Coach Runge is her fight and, you know, her ability to go to the athletic department and say, hey, we want the same treatment.

HARRIS: Everyone saw that in Jody, says sports columnist Ron Bellamy.

BELLAMY: I mean, she basically dragged them, kicking and screaming, into a new era. And it wasn’t just happening here. It was happening in women’s basketball across the country.

HARRIS: But even in this new era, a basic dynamic hadn’t shifted. Men ran most college athletic departments. They decided on the budgets. They held the power. At Oregon, the man in that position was Bill Moos.

MOOS: Welcome to the Special K.

HARRIS: Bill’s retired now, in his 70s. He spends as much time as he can at the Special K. That’s the name of his ranch in the wide-open space of eastern Washington.

MOOS: Two weeks ago, seven-foot drifts – snowed in, couldn’t get out. So…

HARRIS: We walk from his house, tucked in by trees, to a big new barn on a hilltop.

MOOS: Come on in.

HARRIS: Thank you. This is – how big is this place?

MOOS: Six thousand square feet. There’s mooses (ph) all over.

HARRIS: Moose coasters, moose toys, a big stuffed moose head on a wall in the place he keeps the tractors and a full-sized basketball hoop. Bill’s barn is where he stores his memories. He shows me a photo of his granddad driving a combine pulled by horses.

MOOS: Twenty-six horses, five guys on the combine. And that’s my grandpa.

HARRIS: Holding the reins. Bill keeps his professional memories in a different room in the barn.

MOOS: So some of these things – well, you’ll get the flavor of it in here.

HARRIS: Bill ran four different university athletic departments over nearly 40 years. He keeps notes, photos and other memorabilia in labeled plastic tubs on neatly organized shelves.

MOOS: This is a climate-controlled storage. So if you look in here, you’ve got Bill WSU, Bill Montana and Oregon – that’s where all those things are. Montana, Oregon…

HARRIS: Bill’s about 10 years older than Jody, and equity in sports wasn’t federal law when he was growing up and playing football. Title IX was signed the spring before his last season in college.

MOOS: My entire time as a college athlete, Bohler Gym, at Washington State where I played – the only women in that building were secretaries. You were in the training room. You were naked, you know? No big deal – or you had a jock on because there were no female trainers. And the conversations were somewhat below grade.

HARRIS: Athletic directors set the tone and the priorities of college sports teams. It was, and is, a male-dominated world. And besides their personal playing experience, every director brings a personal management style. When Bill was in charge at the U of O, he spent a lot of time chatting with staff, checking in all around the department. It was part of his approach.

MOOS: I go the head trainer, the head strength and conditioning coach and the equipment manager. They’ll tell me the pulse of the place ’cause the athlete is only with the coach two hours a day, and they’re not going to complain. But when they’re at the equipment cage and they’re saying, that son of a bitch and all that kind of stuff, what’s the morale here?

HARRIS: At Oregon, Bill and Jody kept butting heads.

MOOS: Jody just had kind of a contentious attitude, and that’s OK. I didn’t hire Jody.

RUNGE: I think that Bill, you know, in his mind, wanted me to sit around and wait for him.

HARRIS: From Jody’s perspective, she had delivered wins. She was landing top recruits. She was getting the results her employer, the university, wanted to see. Fans were invested in her success, including a powerful group of women alumni. Parents were bringing their daughters to the games. The stands were full. But from Bill’s perspective, Jody could be stubborn and disrespectful. One player remembered Jody swearing at Bill when he showed up uninvited to watch a practice. He had a different vision and different priorities. He was working to market Oregon’s football program as a national brand, not women’s basketball. And Jody just rubbed him the wrong way. When four years was up and Jody’s next contract negotiation rolled around, it quickly became clear that Jody’s winning record was no match for Bill’s control and power. He made a disappointing offer.

RUNGE: He offered me a new contract, but no raise. And, you know, that just, you know, got my nose bent out of joint and his too, ’cause he took a bath in the media for doing it. And so the pressure was on, you know, to win, and the pressure was on on every expense account and every – it was just getting ugly right away.

HARRIS: Where was the equity she and her team deserved? As Jody pushed, her colleagues watched.

REES: We were excited and frightened.

HARRIS: Peg Rees headed the PE department.

REES: We were excited to see what she could accomplish and what would have come from her pushing the envelope, because if she’s successful, that could bode well for all of us. If she’s not, that could bode badly for all of us. So there was a combination of excitement and nervousness at the time.

HARRIS: Why did she have to do it alone?

REES: Because people were afraid for their jobs. We’re talking about people with finite skill sets who don’t have a guarantee of going to the next school. The network for women’s coaches doesn’t have the panache, the background, the foundation that the men’s coaching side of the house have. Men have the ability to fail up in sport, and women don’t have the ability to fail at all.

HARRIS: In these negotiations, Jody succeeded. It took a year, but she closed the gender pay gap. This was a huge accomplishment. It’s still rare today and it couldn’t have happened without the expectation of equity set by Title IX. Both Jody and Bill said publicly that they were happy when she signed. But the experience left wounds.

MOOS: I think Jody got caught up with her relationship with some big donors that she thought would solidify her job. And I don’t operate that way.

RUNGE: The tension between Bill and I, you know, was not helping me be – show that soft underbelly. You know, I was, you know, wound pretty tight, I think. And they could feel that.

HARRIS: In Jody’s eighth season, 2001, the team was still winning. The squad was full of seniors who had pinned dreams on this year. But for the first time since Jody came in as coach, it looked unlikely that they’d make the playoffs. Players were hurt, the schedule was demanding and some were unhappy about who Jody was putting in the game. Tempers were short and things were going in the wrong direction. Jody was worried.

RUNGE: It had been a hard year for the kids. Some of them had been injured and been sick. And, you know, we were – of course, the pressure was on for me to push, to be successful and get back to the tournament again. I think that there were players – you know, some of them weren’t playing as much as they wanted to play. So it was just a culmination of a lot of, you know, all of that. And it was not a train that you could stop.

HARRIS: Title IX had been law for nearly 30 years by now, and while it had brought many tangible changes for women athletes, Jody and Bill were now facing off over something bigger than money or locker rooms – deeply ingrained culture. Jody wanted to prove her team could match the men in revenue. Bill just didn’t believe enough men would watch the women’s game.

MOOS: The majority of them weren’t interested. A lot of them were like me. They didn’t grow up with it. They didn’t see it in high school. They didn’t see it when they were going to college.

HARRIS: Bill says that in his chats around the department, he’d been hearing staff and players complain about Jody. It’s impossible to know whether their concerns were unusual for a hardline coach in a bad year. But Bill paid close attention.

MOOS: They didn’t like the chemistry. They didn’t like the way that she – that they were treated.

HARRIS: On a windy Sunday evening, March 4, 2001, Jodi was doing a task she had negotiated through her contract – a regular TV appearance to promote her team.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Oregon basketball with Jody Runge.

HARRIS: Oregon had beaten Arizona the day before. One more win and they’d secure a playoff spot.


JOE GIANSANTE: A great weekend for Oregon women’s basketball. Hi, everyone. I’m Joe Giansante along with head coach Jody Runge and Mark Larson. Coach, congratulations. Great weekend. It looks like your team is back on track.

RUNGE: I think we are back on track. I think we’re finally feeling like we’re playing on all cylinders again and really have got it going again.

HARRIS: But while she was busy talking up the team, her players back on campus were doing something out of the ordinary. They were going to a meeting with Bill Moos but without her.

MOOS: I typically don’t do that without a coach. And I don’t like to do that. I don’t like end runs.

HARRIS: But Bill says based on the vibes he’d been sensing, he felt OK.

MOOS: This was serious enough that I felt, without her knowing, I needed to hear from those young women.

HARRIS: What was going on that was so serious?

MOOS: It wasn’t good. A lot of discontent. And what I felt was the issue was, hug us and tell us congratulations, good job. Be tough. Chew their ass. Chew their ass. They need that, if indeed they do. But don’t forget to tell them you love them. They came here to play for you.

HARRIS: More than half the team met with Bill to lay out their concerns. They said it was hard to communicate with Jody, and some mentioned times she belittled them. Right after the meeting, someone called a local reporter, who called Jody.

RUNGE: The Register-Guard called me that night and said, did I know that the kids had been in to talk to Bill? And I said, I had no idea. But we got one game to play, and we need to get through it.

HARRIS: They needed that game to make the playoffs, and they won. Jody took her team to the NCAA playoffs for the eighth straight year. But they lost in the first round of the tournament. Their season was over.

RUNGE: And then I kind of took my family and went to the beach. And, you know, Bill decided he wanted to do an outside investigation of the program.

MOOS: Top to bottom.

HARRIS: This was perhaps the biggest power play that Bill could use against Jody. He hired a law firm. Its report made it clear that the players who were willing to speak felt that Jody was disconnected from the team and treated them disrespectfully. The report notes that Jody said, among other things, that some players wanted a coach who was more motherly. The sports pages of the newspaper documented all this in detail. One columnist said it looked like a witch hunt, or the same word with a B. Jody had had enough.

RUNGE: I just, you know, had a conversation with a friend and we were at the PAC-10 coaches meeting. And she said to me, why would you work for people that treat you like that? And it just like an aha moment – you know? – because I was so entrenched in fighting the fight. And it just became really clear to me that – can’t fix this. It’s broken.

HARRIS: Jody resigned. The law firm’s report said the players had asked that she be replaced, but by the time it was submitted, she was already gone.

Jody Runge’s conflict represents one of the many times across America when the promise of Title IX ran smack into resistance or indifference to it. Now equity in college sports has been the law for 50 years. Looking back 20 years to Bill and Jody’s conflict, former player Shaquala Williams thinks about how vulnerable she was. She came in with fire in her eyes and felt deeply connected to her coach. But later, injured and unhappy, she went into that meeting with Bill. Today, she questions the administration’s tactics at the time.

SHAQUALA WILLIAMS: We were a very, very easy group to essentially put in the middle of that because we didn’t know any better. And it wasn’t like they sat down and said, OK, guys, here’s how it’s going to go. We’re going to paint a narrative that says your coach, you know, sacrificed student welfare. And at the end of that, your coach is going to be gone. How do you feel about that?

HARRIS: Bill says Jody’s leaving was inevitable because she wasn’t a team player.

MOOS: She’d stand up to things. But the thing is, she didn’t need to stand up. We were all supporting her. I’d be the first to congratulate her. And the response would be, we got to get a better job of marketing. We need more people in there, instead of thanks, Bill. By the way, I’m going to get you a ring. I appreciate that. Yeah. I – and I don’t – you know, I don’t need that but what would have been nice – thank you. Hey, and the whole staff really was great supporting us. They really were. Instead, you get, we got to do a better job in marketing. We got to get more people in the gym.

HARRIS: Like women all over the U.S., Jody grew up expecting equity, thanks to Title IX. Like so many women, she pushed to make its promise real. Other women coaches noticed Jody’s quick departure from the University of Oregon. Tara VanDerveer has coached powerhouse Stanford for decades. She remembers playing Jody’s team.

TARA VANDERVEER: She did a terrific job, and there’s a double standard. If she was a male coach, they would have jumped through hoops to keep her there and reward her for her great success that she had.

HARRIS: But Jody lost that opportunity.

RUNGE: Are you willing to lose your career to, you know, fight for things that are right, or are you not? I can’t say that I would recommend it. Was it the right choice for me? Yes.

HARRIS: Jody took a year off, tried for some other coaching jobs, but didn’t get one. She left town, and she bought that bed-and-breakfast up in Portland. She never coached college basketball again.


HARRIS: Today, Oregon women’s basketball is a national powerhouse, but the women’s coach is still paid less than the men’s.

KELLY GRAVES: We have the same job. It might even be more difficult on my side.

HARRIS: Wait till you hear what’s in his contract. Stay with us. This is Benching the Patriarchy on UP FIRST Sunday.


HARRIS: This is a great view.

GRAVES: Yeah. Yeah. They’re redoing all the lights.

HARRIS: The women’s basketball coach at Oregon today is Kelly Graves. He’s pointing down through a wide glass window in his office at a lighting upgrade going on in a practice gym.

GRAVES: You can kind of see – you see the older lights?

HARRIS: He’s come in on a post-season Saturday to chat, and he’s cheerful and enthusiastic. Trophies, plaques and basketballs fill a bookshelf along one wall of his office. He has a broad desk, a large flat-screen TV and a big, black comfy chair.

GRAVES: Well, that’s my favorite chair…

HARRIS: You can sit in that chair.

GRAVES: …on a Saturday watching the NBA.


This is the kind of set-up that Jody would have loved. So it looks like some of the obvious gaps in equity that she dealt with are gone. But the men’s team budget is still twice as high as the women’s team. I ask Kelly if he thinks college sports will ever be equitable, like Title IX requires.

GRAVES: Yeah, I don’t know if it ever will be. I mean, seriously, just that we’ve got so much ground to cover still. I think salaries have got to be somewhat commensurate with each other. I mean, they’re not even close. You know, Dana makes three times what I make here.

HARRIS: Just in one office above.

When Kelly says Dana, he points up at the ceiling. The office of the men’s basketball coach, Dana Altman, is directly above. The differences in their contracts are kind of stunning. This year, Kelly is getting paid a million dollars for his base salary. Dana gets over three times more for his base, plus bigger bonuses and an annual retention fee. Kelly doesn’t get that.

GRAVES: We have the same job. Might even be more difficult on my side because the honest truth is there aren’t as many girls that are playing high school basketball as there are boys. There’s a smaller pool to choose from of elite athletes as there are.

HARRIS: And that’s true. The number of girls playing high school sports has grown tenfold since Title IX to more than 3 million. But fewer girls than boys play basketball and fewer play sports overall. It’s also true that the contracts of both coaches show that they were hired for essentially the same job. But there’s this one line different in their contracts that seems just straight-up rooted in gender stereotypes. Kelly’s contract says that he’s supposed to instill and reinforce high standards for character and conduct in his female players, on and off the court. Dana, the men’s coach – there’s no similar wording in his deal.


GRAVES: Come right through – we can go right…

HARRIS: Right outside his office, Kelly shows me around a bunch of glass display cases in the hallway. One is full of shoes.

GRAVES: This one right here, by the way, this white one…

HARRIS: With the neon, yeah.

GRAVES: …The Jordan. It’s the first shoe Nike ever made specifically for one women’s basketball team. Made that for us on our Final Four here.

HARRIS: Kelly has taken the women farther in the playoffs than even Jody did. Lots of the cases here hold trophies. Superstar Sabrina Ionescu is named on many of them. Among other things, she holds the national record of all college players, women and men, for what’s called triple doubles. That basically means she’s amazing at everything. Kelly thinks the U of O should honor Sabrina by commissioning a statue of her.

GRAVES: Talk about someone who’s really brought the game to the forefront in the eyes of the men’s fan, right? I can’t remember a female basketball player that had the crossover appeal that she did.

HARRIS: The thing about a statue is it’s permanent. It’s a tribute that lasts. This is something that didn’t happen to the U of O’s first women’s basketball superstar, Bev Smith – nationally recognized, who showed the potential the program could have had so early on. When she graduated in 1982, the athletic department retired her number – No. 24 – to honor her amazing play. But over time, they forgot they’d done it. Kelly Graves, unaware, let another player wear it.

GRAVES: I don’t think anybody knew that it was retired.

HARRIS: Apparently, nobody in the records department wrote it down. But Bev’s old coach remembered. So did Peg Rees. She played on the U of O’s very first women’s varsity team.

REES: They feel like microaggressions, but they’re micro-omissions, and sometimes they’re macro-omissions. And in this case, your most decorated basketball alumni’s retired number is not remembered. Somebody dropped the ball.

HARRIS: And only last month, more than two decades after she left, the school finally honored Jody Runge, adding her to its sports Hall of Fame. The ceremony was in the new basketball arena, dressed up with dark curtains, silver tablecloths and flowers.


GRAVES: Good evening again, everybody. It is so good to be here – the 2021 University of Oregon Athletics Hall of Fame induction ceremony. And, yeah, I know it’s 2022, but can we…

HARRIS: Coach Kelly Graves introduced Jody in a short video.


GRAVES: Jody, on behalf of the entire women’s basketball program, we want to congratulate you on your Hall of Fame nomination. I want you to know how much I respect you, personally, and thank you for everything that you’ve done to help pave the way for my position to be a lot easier.


GRAVES: Please welcome to the stage, Jody Runge.

HARRIS: She came up wearing high heels and standing tall, as always.


RUNGE: So great to be here and see so many wonderful friends again and…

HARRIS: There’s been a lot of this kind of belated recognition lately in America – an attempt to make amends for past exclusion. But for those on the receiving end, it can also feel like picking an old wound. A few days after the Hall of Fame ceremony, Jody dropped by my house to talk about it. It’s not far from her bed-and-breakfast in Portland. Luckily, she loves cats because mine kept interrupting.

I have to get the cat to be quiet. I’m sorry.

RUNGE: (Laughter).

HARRIS: Jody told me she enjoyed seeing old friends, and she felt appreciated at the ceremony. But one thing the emcee asked still bothered her.

RUNGE: The first question he asked me was how proud I am.


GRAVES: I did want to ask you just about the legacy that you built, and then it’s continued here – just how proud are you of that?

RUNGE: Well…

It’s not about being proud. It’s about having to have had to fight all those battles. I’m not proud of that. I’m irritated by having had to do it. You know, it cost me a career. And for people to say that I should be proud of that is, you know, really insulting because it’s not something I’m proud of. It’s just something I felt like I had to do to continue to be successful.

HARRIS: What she’s saying seems bigger than basketball, bigger even than Title IX. All those pronouncements women have been contending with – not athletic, not sellable, not worth investing in, ungrateful for opportunities – who says? Who gets to decide what women – or anyone – are worth or how they should be? And despite her playing and her coaching success, Jody is one of many people saying the dream of Title IX is not done. Young women today are still pushing for the promises guaranteed by a law passed 50 years ago. Now they can speak up, especially on social media, and be heard around the world.


PRINCE: If you aren’t upset about this problem, then you’re a part of it.

HARRIS: Like Sedona Prince in that TikTok video showing off the huge disparities between the men’s and women’s weight rooms at the playoffs last year. After her video went viral, the NCAA increased the number of women’s teams in the playoffs to match the men’s, evened out the number of staff, started paying refs of women’s games the same as refs of men’s and let women use the marketing phrase March Madness.


HARRIS: Separately, the NCAA also made a dramatic change that affects all college athletes. Student athletes are, for now at least, allowed to earn sponsorships for use of their names and pictures. So far, collectively, the women have edged out men basketball players in getting deals. And the game – the starting point – is just getting better, more popular and more dramatic.


UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: You can’t dunk it. Does she? Yes. Throws it down.

HARRIS: This current generation of Title IX-ers (ph) – they’re still finding boundaries to break.


UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Back on the playground. But now all I do is win. Throw it down. Believe me – says you better believe me.


MARTIN: Benching the Patriarchy was produced by Ida Hardin and Lee Hale and edited by Jennifer Schmidt. Fact-checking by Julia Wohl. Special thanks to Liana Simstrom, Bruce Auster, Neal Carruth, Lauren Gonzalez, Emily Bogle and Franklyn Cater. That’s it for today. UP FIRST will be back tomorrow with all the news you need to know. Have a good rest of your Sunday.


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