SEC celebrates 50th anniversary of Title IX

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SEC Staff

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Birmingham, Ala, (June 23, 2022) – Title IX of the Higher Education Act was passed as US law on June 23, 1972. It was enacted to ensure: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation, denied benefits, or any education program or activity receiving federal financial aid.” shall not be subject to discrimination under

Title IX has had an impact on American society in many different ways, including ensuring female athletes have equal opportunities to compete and succeed in sports. The Southeastern Conference has been a leader in providing opportunities for women in sports and has enjoyed five decades of success.

SEC female student-athletes make a difference every day in the competition, in the classroom, and in the community. This year, the 50th anniversary of Title IX, we celebrate their successes and look to further opportunities in SEC women’s athletics.

A Brief Look at the History of the Championship

Basketball, volleyball and tennis were the first sports to be recognized with a conference championship during the 1979–80 athletic year. The Kentucky Wildcats won the first league title in any SEC women’s sport by winning the volleyball championship with a 35–18 record over Tennessee in the tournament final and a 3–1 win over Tennessee.

The SEC held its first women’s basketball tournament in Knoxville in 1980. Florida won the first tournament game ever, beating Mississippi State 68–62. Four days later, Pat Head’s Tennessee Volunteers defeated Ole Miss, 85–71, in the championship game.

Later that year, Florida became the first team to win a tennis championship in the SEC.

The following year, the SEC added championships for women’s golf, gymnastics, swimming and diving, and outdoor track and field. Florida won the women’s golf and swimming and diving titles for the first time, and Tennessee captured the inaugural outdoor track championships.

Meanwhile, LSU claimed the first SEC gymnastics title under head coach DD Breaux – who would eventually become the longest-serving coach in SEC history – male or female – surpassing Adolph Roop.

In 1982, Florida became the first SEC school to win an NCAA title in any sport as the Gators claimed the swimming and diving national championship. Also in 1982, Tennessee Lady Walls became the first SEC team to reach the Women’s Final Four, and Florida swimmer Tracy Colkins became the first SEC female athlete to be selected as the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year, an award now recognized as the Honda-Broderick cup.

In 1983, Tennessee won the first SEC cross country championship held in Lexington, Ky., and later that year in 1984, Lady Walls won the first SEC Indoor Track and Field Championship.

Later in the 1980s, more SEC teams would move to the conference to claim the national title for the first time in their sport. Florida won the NCAA golf title in 1985, and Georgia won the gymnastics title in 1987, LSU won both indoor and outdoor track titles, and Tennessee won its first women’s basketball national championship.

In 1988, Auburn and Tennessee reached the Final Four of the Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournament, the first time a conference had two teams in the final round. Also in 1988, the Kentucky Wildcats won the SEC’s first national title in cross country.

In 1992, Florida won the NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championship, the first of ten national titles in women’s tennis for the conference.

Southeastern Conference schools came together in 1993 to adopt the principle of gender equality, stipulating that each school would offer at least two women’s intercollegiate programs compared to the number of men’s teams.

Football became an SEC-sponsored sport in 1993 with four teams (Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky and Vanderbilt) and Vanderbilt defeating Arkansas in double overtime to take the first SEC crown in football. All 12 members began playing in 1996.

In 1997, South Carolina defeated Florida to win the first SEC softball championship.

In 1998, Florida won the SEC’s first and only national title in football by winning the NCAA Division I Women’s Football College Cup over North Carolina.

In 2012 it was announced that the SEC would determine the league champion in equestrian for the 2012–13 season. It became the 21st game sponsored by the league. South Carolina won its first conference title in equestrian and Auburn claimed the SEC’s first national title in the sport that same season. Also in 2012, Alabama won the SEC’s first national title in softball.

Arkansas won its first NCAA women’s cross country title in 2019, and collegiate sports as the only national title for an SEC team in an athletic year was later canceled due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. With the win, Arkansas became only the second NCAA women’s team to achieve a three-season Triple Crown.

In 2021, Kentucky became the first SEC event to win a national title in volleyball, allowing the SEC to sponsor at least one national championship in every sport.

The SEC announced in July 2021 that the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas would become members effective July 1, 2025, with competition beginning in all sports for the 2025–26 academic year.

Play opening session 1st SEC Champion First NCAA Champion
volleyball 1979-80 Kentucky, 1979 Kentucky, 2020-21
Basketball 1979-80 Tennessee, 1980 Tennessee, 1987
Tennis 1979-80 Florida, 1980 Florida, 1992
swimming and diving 1980-81 Florida, 1981 Florida, 1982
Exercise 1980-81 LSU, 1981 Georgia, 1987
golf 1980-81 Florida, 1981 Florida, 1985
outdoor track and field 1980-81 Tennessee, 1981 LSU, 1987
cross country 1983-84 Tennessee, 1983 Kentucky, 1988
indoor track and field 1983-84 Tennessee, 1984 LSU, 1987
soccer 1993-94 Vanderbilt, 1993 Florida, 1998
softball 1996-97 South Carolina, 1997 Alabama, 2012
horseman 2012-13 South Carolina, 1997 Auburn, 2013

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