The Gift of Equity
When the sweeping piece of legislation known as Title IX was passed in 1972, Glada Munt was a graduate student at Baylor University still unsure of exactly what she wanted to do with her life.
“Everyone was talking about this legislation, but no one knew what it meant and what the impact was going to be,” Munt recalls. “There was a lot of resistance to it.”
For Munt, the legislation – which mandated gender equity in all programs that receive federal funding, including athletics – ended up having a huge impact on her career. She says it also had a major impact on Southwestern.
“I was fortunate to grow with Title IX and to grow with women’s athletics,” she says.
The first immediate effect Title IX had on Munt’s career was that she became the first woman to have a graduate assistantship in athletics at Baylor. She served as the head women’s tennis coach, assistant volleyball coach and assistant women’s basketball coach while completing her master’s degree in education.
In 1975, Munt was hired at Southwestern to help the university start its women’s athletic program – a direct response to Title IX.
“At the time I was brought in, Southwestern had four sports for men and had just started two sports for women the previous year – volleyball and tennis,” Munt says.
In her first year at Southwestern, Munt took over as head volleyball coach and head tennis coach. Her second year at Southwestern, a group of women came to her and said they wanted to start a basketball team. Munt also served as women’s intramural director and had a full teaching load.
“In my free time I was the cheerleader sponsor for the men’s basketball team,” she jokes.
Munt remained the only women’s athletic coach at Southwestern until Reda Clay was hired in 1981. During the 20 years she served as head volleyball coach, she compiled a record of 554-301 and her teams qualified for nine NAIA national championship appearances. Munt was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame in 1990 and was inducted into the Southwestern University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2004, which made her the first person who was still active with the school at the time of induction.
At first, Munt said the female athletes at Southwestern weren’t as skilled as the male athletes because they weren’t getting good training in high school or junior high. But as the concept of equity trickled down to high schools, more quality athletes began to come up the pipeline.
“People like (former athletics director) Tex Kassen were amazed at the improvement that women athletes demonstrated in their skills,” Munt says.
As a result, Munt says Kassen began to move Southwestern on a path to parity in athletics. But the real changes came about with Kassen’s successor, Carla Lowry, who was hired in 1984.
“Carla was a pioneer in equity for women’s athletics,” Munt says.
Lowry’s appointment in itself was groundbreaking in 1984. “She was one of the few female athletic directors,” Munt says. “That would not have happened without Title IX.”
Lowry had been an All-American at Wayland Baptist University, which had one of only a handful of nationally active women’s basketball programs at the time. She also played for the United States team that won a gold medal at the Pan American Games in Chicago in 1959. Lowry earned a Ph.D. from Texas Woman’s University and spent 12 years at The University of Texas at Arlington before accepting the position of athletics director at Southwestern.
Under Lowry’s tenure, Southwestern added women’s teams every time it added new sports such as soccer and cross country. Munt says Lowry also put equity into budgets and facilities. It was under her tenure that Southwestern planned and built the Robertson Center. Southwestern is inducting Lowry into its Athletics Hall of Fame this fall.
Munt says Roy Shilling, who was president at the time Lowry was athletics director, was also a strong advocate for equity. “Southwestern was fortunate to have a president with Roy Shilling’s vision of equity,” she says. “To this day, Southwestern has done better than most schools in implementing Title IX.”
When the Robertson Center opened in 1995, Lowry was promoted to associate dean of students and director of wellness and leisure activities – a position she held until her retirement in 2001.
At the time Lowry was promoted, Munt says the typical thing to do would have been to promote Jim Mallon, who was the school’s popular baseball coach, into the athletics director position and make her the assistant athletics director.
“At 90 percent of institutions, that’s what would have happened,” Munt says. “We were very counterculture – the woman was promoted and the male was the assistant athletics director.”
Munt loves to tell a story about how she accompanied Mallon and his baseball team to Wisconsin one year when they qualified for the NCAA regionals (Mallon remained head baseball coach in addition to serving as Munt’s assistant athletics director).
“I was going up in the bleachers and these men asked me if I was the wife of the coach,” Munt says. “I said, ‘No, I’m the director of athletics’ and one of them said ‘How did a girl like you get to be an athletics director?”
Munt says she just looked at the man and said “I earned it.” After that, she says he looked at her and said “I like that – you earned it.” “I had total acceptance from there,” she says.
Munt notes that Title IX also called for parity in areas such as athletic training and sports information. All these opened up additional career opportunities for women.
“Before Title IX, there was no way females were going to get jobs in those areas,” Munt says.
Throughout her career, Munt says she has tried to mentor other women the way Lowry mentored her (Munt served as assistant director of athletics under Lowry from 1988-1995). She is proud of the fact that her first mentee through an NCAA-sponsored program is now athletics director at SUNY Oneonta. Two other top athletics administrators at Southwestern are also women who Munt has mentored – Ronda Seagraves, who serves as associate director of intercollegiate athletics, and Megan Hardin, who serves as sports information director. Seagraves was recently named athletics director for Centenary College in Louisiana.
Munt says she also makes a point to educate her young coaches – both male and female – on how far the country has come as a result of Title IX.
“The current generation has never known the world without Title IX,” she says. “They don’t understand and at times don’t appreciate how far women’s athletics has come because of people like Carla Lowry. They just assume that this is how it has always been. We shouldn’t take the gift of equity lightly just like we shouldn’t take the gift of freedom lightly.”