Northwestern and Illinois Ranked in the Top of Colleges Hiring Women Head Coaches

Northwestern and Illinois Ranked in the Top of Colleges Hiring Women Head Coaches
Kelly Amonte-Hiller has led Northwestern to unprecedented success in women's LaCrosse.

Christine Brennan had a great article posted tonight about a study about hiring practices of women head coaches in collegiate athletics. The study was conducted by the Tucker Center for Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota. The study was only 76 schools that play in the BCS automatic qualifier conferences.

The schools were each given grades from A-F. Illinois receives a B and Northwestern a C. The Illini had 55 percent of the head coaches of their women's teams headed by females, while NU was at 50 percent. The Illini ranked eighth nationally while Northwestern was in a multi school tie. Amazingly with a woman, Jeannie Lenti-Ponsetto as Athletic Director, DePaul had only 28 percent of their women's teams led by a female. That gave them a grade of a D.

Brennan is quoted in the article as saying.

"More than 40 years after Title IX opened the floodgates for women and girls to play sports, our universities are doing a terrible job of hiring women to coach women's sports....She also mentions later that amazingly less than 50 percent of the women's teams in the power conferences are coached by women." The survey looked at two academic years. In the 2012-13 school year, only 40.2 % of head coaches of women's teams at the 76 schools were women, just 356 women coaches out of a total of 886 women's teams. In the current academic year, that percentage dropped to 39.6 % (352 out of 888 teams)."

Brennan mentions that in 1972 that number was 90 percent. Title IX was enacted in part to give women better educational opportunities in education and athletics.

The most prominent of the women's head coaches in the State of Illinois is Kelly Amonte-Hiller of Northwestern. She has guided the Wildcats to places many doubted could be done at Northwestern in any sport. Between 2005-12, the Wildcats advanced to eight straight national title games, winning seven of those. Her 2005 Northwestern squad went undefeated and brought home the first Northwestern national championship in a team sport.

Her status as a great head coach has transcended the sports world. She was recently named as one of Crain Chicago's 40 under 40. It was her involvement helping grow LaCrosse in Chicago that landed her on the list, not her success on the field.

Northwestern's other legendary coach is tennis coach Claire Pollard. She has headed the Women's tennis program for 15 years. In those 15 years, the Wildcats have claimed 12 Big Ten title. Eleven of those came consecutively between 1999-2009.

Title IX's importance cannot be understated even if it has been controversial at times. Some schools have chosen to drop certain men's sports instead of adding women's sports. Yet the importance of a strong football program seems to often grow at the expense of everything else.

Title IX has given many women the opportunity to thrive in collegiate athletics as a player. As Brennan points out.

"failing to give female athletes the professional opportunities they deserve after their playing days are over and, perhaps just as important, failing to provide girls and women with female coaching role models so they might someday aspire to those jobs."

Although Illinois might not have the opportunities that are available in the warmer weather states, many outstanding high school and collegiate athletes have come through the state of Illinois that deserve coaching jobs elsewhere.

Northwestern's Kate Drohan led Northwestern to the final of the Women's college world series in softball. Certainly those are players that earned great experience and should they choose would make great college coaches someday. Courtnay Foster who was star pitcher on that team is NU's current pitching coach.  Lindsay Munday was one of Amonte-Hiller's first stars. Munday now plays on the USA national team and heads USC's LaCrosse program.

In the past, Illinois' women's basketball program had been fronted by Hall of Fame Coach Terera Grentz, but now led by a man, Matt Bolant.

Illinois has also had some impressive hirings in their women's programs. Michelle Dasso was a star tennis player at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire and now heads the Illini tennis program. Illinois softball coach Terri Sullivan pitched for Loyola and was an assistant at UIC when they reached the 1994 Women's College World Series. Illinois golf coach Renee Slone is considered the greatest golfer in school history. She was also a two time state champion in Illinois from Metamora.

All of these women are great role models for young women that want to enter coaching. Add them to Lenti-Ponsetto and hopefully the amount of women at Illinois, Northwestern and DePaul fronting programs will increase in the coming years.

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Filed under: college, illini, Northwestern

Tags: depaul

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