Celebrating Title IX

By Erika Mahoney

November 28, 2012 Updated Nov 28, 2012 at 12:33 AM EDT

Cortland, NY (WBNG Binghamton) A heated tip-off and a close score meant packed bleachers inside SUNY Cortland's Park Center Tuesday night.

But despite the steady flow of baskets, this rivalry game against Ithaca College wasn't just about winning.

"We are celebrating the 40th anniversary of Title IX," said Interim Assistant Athletic Director Ashley Whiting.

Title IX, which passed in 1972, prohibits gender discrimination in education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance.

To celebrate, SUNY Cortland took on Ithaca College for some healthy competition.

The bleachers were packed and the cheers were loud as every Cortland athletic team came out to cheer the players on.

Outside the court, a display showcased Title IX history.

"Back in the day, we probably wouldn't have a team like we do now these days," said Kristen Silk, a junior volleyball player. "So if it wasn't for Title IX, I wouldn't be here as I am today."

Before 1972, female athletes at Cortland wore blue tunics to play sports in. At the game Tuesday, athletes tried them on and said they couldn't imagine running in them.

"It's very uncomfortable, this is a blouse underneath here and this is a dress type thing," said Erika Geremia, a freshman lacrosse player.

Rights have come a long way, but some say the future holds even more opportunities.

"We are still only 40 years away from Title IX and I think that sometimes, you don't see as many women in athletics," said Azure Davey, Commissioner of SUNY Athletic Conference. "I think seeing that number continue to grow is very important. So we still need to develop and educate young women and grow them for leadership opportunities in athletics."

Like Senior Volleyball Player Kristen Guercio, who aspires to become a teacher and coach volleyball.

"I'll be able to coach women's sports, which I might not have been able to do back before Title IX was around," said Guercio. "It gives me the opportunity to work with women teams as well as men teams."

With appreciation for the past comes a bigger outlook to the future.