LEXINGTON, Ky. – UK Athletics, in conjunction with its official television partner WLEX, will begin unveiling the commemorative “UK Title IX Top 50” team honoring the 50 greatest Kentucky women’s athletes of the Title IX era on a nightly basis starting on Thursday.
The UK Athletics Title IX Top 50 is a tentpole initiative of the department’s multi-faceted celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Title IX, which includes commemorative events and experiences, multimedia coverage and community activations.
UK Athletics Title IX 50th Anniversary Team
A blue-ribbon panel of women’s sports head coaches, administrators and UK Athletics Hall of Fame members selected the Title IX 50th Anniversary Team, featuring the 50 greatest women athletes of Kentucky’s last 50 years.
Five team members will be named each night on WLEX’s BBN Tonight and during the evening news. The full team of 50 will be commemorated on the June 23 anniversary of the signing of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, legislation put in place to end discrimination on the basis of sex.
The team is listed comprised of 50 female student-athletes, and unveiled in no particular order. Only athletes who exhausted their eligibility, or will complete four years of eligibility by the end of the 2021-22 season, were included in the top-50.
The difficult and subjective selection process, a function of the tremendous success of so many Kentucky athletes over the last half century, was based on the following:
- Only athletes who competed for Kentucky in the last 50 years (only since the implementation of Title IX in 1972) were considered.
- Selections only included athletes. They must complete their eligibility to compete for Kentucky in 2021-22 academic year.
- Selections were based on athletic accomplishments, defined as their importance to great teams and their individual accomplishments with the emphasis on their careers at Kentucky.
UK Athletics Title IX 50th Anniversary Celebration
UK Athletics kicked off its 50th Anniversary celebration of Title IX inside Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center on Feb. 2 when all of the department’s women student-athletes were honored on the court for “National Girls and Women in Sports Day.”
All of the UK’s 12 women’s sports teams, plus the women of the coed rifle team, and the cheerleading and dance teams took the court at halftime of the Kentucky Men’s Basketball game in front of 20,000 members of Big Blue Nation.
Additionally, in conjunction with the Southeastern Conference’ Title IX anniversary celebration, UK teams wore commemorative warmup shirts honoring the women’s sports pioneers who paved the way for today’s women athletes.
In celebration of Mother’s Day, UK Athletics honored many of the department staff super moms who were elite athletes in their playing days with a fun video featuring their children offering a unique perspective on the legacy Title IX continues to build on.
Athletic Director mitch barnhart was part of a distinguished group of “SEC Trailblazers” from all 14 SEC member institutions that were honored at the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament, which the Wildcats won.
Each of the honorees contributed to the advancement of women and the growth of women’s athletics at their universities and within the Conference.
Throughout the year, the UK will continue its decades-long legacy of growing access and opportunity to women’s athletics while renewing its commitment to equity.
Title IX at 50
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” – Signed by President Richard Nixon on June 23, 1972.
While the federal legislation applied to the entire education sector, some of the greatest impacts of Title IX applied in the athletics field.
About UK Athletics
UK Athletics is a leader in college sports, sponsoring 23 varsity sports teams (12 women’s teams plus the coed rifle team) and hundreds of student-athletes, competing for championships, ensuring their education and well-being, and providing opportunities for the present and future.
Two UK women’s sports teams, volleyball and women’s basketball, won SEC Championships in 2021-22, and the coed rifle team won a second NCAA Team title in a row. Riley Gaines was named SEC Community Service Leader of the Year in 2022, and many other women athletes earned prestigious academic and athletic honors throughout the year.