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Women's sports and 50 years of Title IX

Title IX and Nancy MillerAs a former UNF student-athlete, coach and the current associate athletic director for Compliance and Administration, Nancy Miller has experienced firsthand the impact of Title IX in women’s sports at the collegiate level. A member of UNF’s inaugural women’s basketball team in 1992, Miller has been a fixture of North Florida Athletics for 30 years.

“I had this unique opportunity to be one of the founding members of a women’s basketball program. I was able to parlay that into two degrees, a longtime coaching career and now a career in administration,” said Miller. “I feel fortunate every day when I drive onto this campus that I still get to wear navy and gray, and call myself an Osprey.”

While the campus community celebrates UNF’s 50-year history, it’s also fitting to acknowledge 50 years of Title IX — which became public law on June 23, 1972, with the aim of prohibiting sex-based discrimination in any school or any other education program that receives funding from the federal government.

Born in the mid-1970s, Miller recognizes she’s never been denied the opportunity to participate in sports recreationally or otherwise simply based on her gender thanks to Title IX — unlike so many before her. Miller began her sports journey at the age of six playing soccer while living in Northern Virginia. She cites Steffi Graf, Gabriela Sabatini and Pat Summit as some of her sports heroes growing up. After moving to the Jacksonville area, she adopted the sport of basketball, which eventually led her to playing basketball at UNF. After a successful collegiate playing career, she transitioned into coaching before working in compliance.

In her current position, Miller is involved with various aspects of NCAA and university compliance for student-athletes including admissions, financial aid, housing and more. Through this role, Miller says she enjoys being a problem-solver and a resource for student-athletes, coaches and the athletics department staff. Miller and her colleagues also work with UNF’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Inclusion (EOI) to ensure the athletics staff and student-athletes receive annual Title IX and gender equity training.

Since UNF began competing in intercollegiate sports in the fall of 1983 with men’s and women’s cross country, the athletics department has grown exponentially. To date, UNF Athletics competes at the Division I level with 19 teams (including 11 women’s teams) consisting of 300+ student-athletes. The current landscape of women’s sports at UNF is flourishing with room for continued growth. Miller shares that she has seen an abundant upswing in women’s equity in sports throughout the years.

While she acknowledges there’s still room for improvement regarding Title IX implementation at many institutions including UNF, she recognizes its positive impact in her career. “I wouldn’t be here today as an associate athletic director of a Division I college program if Title IX hadn’t been passed,” said Miller.

Senior Associate AD for Compliance and Administration/SWA Donna Kirk, shares similar sentiments stating that it’s commonplace to see women in executive roles across the athletics and sports landscape because of Title IX. Kirk also champions the opportunities afforded to female athletes because of Title IX. “The amount of scholarship aid available to assist female student-athletes pursue their education and earn degrees would not be what it is without Title IX,” said Kirk. In their roles as administrators, both Kirk and Miller list scholarship dollars and media attention among the biggest improvements they’ve seen regarding women’s equity in sports.

“At UNF, we’ve always been strong proponents of Title IX and gender equity,” said Miller. “You can review coaching salaries, resource allotment, equipment, budgets, scholarships … and realize how attentive to detail we have been with providing equitable resources for both our male and female student-athletes and teams.”

Learn more about Nancy Miller and Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972.