IU women’s players learn Title IX history

BLOOMINGTON — The first thing that came into Teri Moren’s head when asked about women’s college basketball in 2022 compared to when she was younger was television.

Moren, 52, a member of the Indiana High School Basketball Hall of Fame for her achievements as a player at Seymour High School and Purdue University, is the widely known coach of the Indiana University women’s team.

Now, she can click on the TV set and watch a women’s basketball game from any corner of the country or a soccer game featuring a women’s team from another country.

“I didn’t have that opportunity growing up,” Moren said recently as her team prepared for its new season.

The Big Ten, in conjunction with the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Pac-12, is highlighting a yearlong observance of the 50th anniversary of the passage of Title IX into law. The effort, called “Celebrating 50 Years of Title IX TogetHER,” will include recognizing 50 notable athletes, coaches or administrators who have made a significant impact during the last 50 years.

Praising the gender equality produced by the civil rights law, Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said, “Title IX forever changed the landscape of college athletics.”

Title IX generated massive growth in opportunities for girls and women on high school and college sports teams — and a ripple effect producing widespread television programming.

“We have more exposure,” Moren said.

More all of the time since the Big Ten Network was introduced in 2007. Moren’s Hoosiers, who two seasons ago advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament, have become perennial winners and a nationally ranked program under her guidance over the last nine years, are well-positioned to add followers.

If football and basketball are dual flagships of college men’s sports, basketball stands alone as queen for women, as much by circumstance. The game is more popular than any other academic year sport contested by college women with 1,300 teams across all NCAA divisions I-III and the NAIA, plus 500 junior college teams.

Moren works to educate her players, the 20-somethings who have lived only with a Title IX-empowered world, about the way things were for women before they were born.

“She has talked about it,” said star guard Grace Berger, “making sure we know we’re so spoiled (compared to earlier days). My grandmother (Liz Berger) always talks about the opportunities I get.”

Berger, 23, said growing up in Louisville, she and her father, Todd, held season tickets to University of Louisville women’s games. She said her dad wanted her to see talented female athletes in action to understand what she could achieve.

Berger has been all-Big Ten and competed internationally for the United States. She also has traveled to away games on some chartered planes, something that might astonish long-ago players who only rode buses.

Studying old films about women’s basketball, it is doubtful Berger very often sees teams whizzing through the sky on jets.

“I have different documentaries,” Berger said of her collection.

IU frontcourt star Mackenzie Holmes, who came to Bloomington from Gorham, Maine, learned quite a bit about Title IX last summer by attending an NCAA women’s leadership program.

Discovering the limitations placed on girls and women in sport in the past and for the first time being exposed to the six-player basketball style limiting females from playing full-court ball, Holmes said it was a shock.

“We get the same opportunities as the men,” she said. “I’m grateful for the people that came before us.”