Tools

Bettye Giles, Title IX Left Mark on UTM Athletic Program

By Adam Wells
By awells@wbbjtv.com

Martin, Tenn. - Bettye Giles left her mark on UT Martin. From the softball field that bares her name to the hallways of the Athletic Department. But what shes most proud of is what happened in the summer of 1972.

"We all worked for three or four years prior to the passing of Title IX," Giles said. "So, once it was passed we felt we won a battle."

The passing of Title IX was her goal from the start.

"From the time I came here I was involved with athletics period," Giles said. "I love sports. I love the men's teams but always thought women should play if they want to."

Her thoughts and dreams were not shared by all.

"Male administrators of athletics feared Title IX and we had to listen to what it meant," Giles said. "It would cut back on football scholarships or basketball. How can we fund or put money without cutting men. If you investigated you would find there's been no cutbacks and we found a way to do it."

Mrs. Giles spent 43 years at UT Martin before retiring in 1995. The majority of that time she spent as the Women's Athletics Director. She oversaw the first female athlete to go on scholarship and the university's first championship.

"Ive seen us come from nothing at all to where we are today," Giles said. "Not saying that we've totally arrived because there's still room."

This year women's athletic teams played in five conference championships, winning three.

"Bursting with pride," Giles said. "Just thankful for the glorious year at UT Martin in women's sports."

She says the best years are still to come.

"I'm not quite ready to sit down and rock all the time," Giles said. "Not gonna be to long. Not yet though. Not as long as I can keep going."