Sep 17, 2019 - Sports

Power 5 schools employ just 4 female athletic directors

Penn State AD Anne Saunders "Sandy" Barbour

Penn State AD Anne Saunders "Sandy" Barbour. Photo: Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

65 colleges make up the Power 5 conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC), and only 4 of those schools have female athletic directors, per the New York Times.

Why it matters: 47 years after Congress passed Title IX, women make up nearly half of all college athletes. But the fact that just 4 have been put in charge of Power 5 schools is a stark reminder of the disparity that still exists.

  1. Sandy Barbour, Penn State
  2. Jennifer Cohen, Washington
  3. Heather Lyke, Pittsburgh
  4. Carla Williams, Virginia
"The Power 5 level is the most male dominated part of college athletics because of the money and because of big-time football and basketball, which have traditionally been sort of the male, boys' club things. It's much harder for women to break into these roles because of that."
— Patti Phillips, CEO of Women Leaders in College Sports, per NYT

The big picture: Despite their lack of representation at the top of the college sports pyramid, women are increasingly filling roles outside the Power 5 — and there is a growing sense that a cultural shift is underway.

  • By the numbers: 68 women were hired as athletic directors or conference commissioners across all of college sports in 2018, up from just 19 in 2002.

Go deeper: There's still a pay gap for female athletes

Go deeper