ATLANTA (Sept. 8, 2021) - Representatives of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, including two SEC coaches and a current student-athlete, participated today in a virtual listening session on women's sports hosted by the White House Gender Policy Council.
The purpose of the listening session was to ensure the challenges and needs of female athletes are integrated into the council's government-wide strategy to advance gender equity and equality in both domestic and foreign policy.
Representing the WBCA were:
- Cori Close, Head Women's Basketball Coach, University of California, Los Angeles (WBCA president)
- Danielle Donehew, Executive Director, WBCA
- Rich Ensor, Commissioner, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (WBCA board member)
- Rhonda Farney, Head Girls Basketball Coach, Georgetown High School, Georgetown, Texas (WBCA member)
- Nell Fortner, Head Women's Basketball Coach, Georgia Institute of Technology (WBCA member)
- Mary Ellen Gillespie, Deputy Director, WBCA
- Muffet McGraw, Head Women's Basketball Coach retired, University of Notre Dame (WBCA member)
- Dawn Staley, Head Women's Basketball Coach, University of South Carolina (WBCA member)
- Joni Taylor, Head Women's Basketball Coach, University of Georgia (WBCA board member)
- Teresa Waters, Head Girls' Basketball Coach, River Hill High School, Clarksville, Maryland (WBCA board member)
- Andy Zihlman, Head Girls Basketball Coach, Bishop Lynch High School, Dallas, Texas (WBCA member)
Representing the Biden-Harris Administration were:
- Jennifer Klein, Deputy Assistant to the President, Co-Chair and Executive Director, Gender Policy Council
- Kalisha Figures, Special Assistant to the President for Gender Policy
- Samantha Chaifetz, Deputy Counsel to the Vice President
- Jamie Keene, Deputy Director for Racial and Economic Justice, Domestic Policy Council
"The WBCA was founded in 1981, during the adolescence of Title IX, largely to battle gender inequities in how women's sports - and women's basketball specifically - were being treated," Close told the president's and vice president's advisors. "Nevertheless, here we are 40 years later still talking about and fighting, not only for equity in resources and in opportunities for women in sport, but against obstacles that continue to impede our growth.
"Despite that, women's sports have grown. Yes, thanks in no small part to Title IX and the commitment of past administrations and favorable rulings in the courts in enforcing and uphold its tenets. But largely because of our own tenacity, our own sheer, and our unwavering belief that it is the right thing to do, that there not only is monetary value in women's sports for those willing to invest in it, but there is societal value in the positive image of women and girls it conveys and of the lasting values of commitment, hard work and leadership it instills in those who participate."
President Joe Biden in March signed an executive order establishing the White House Gender Policy Council, which states: "The full participation of all people - including women and girls - across all aspects of our society is essential to the economic well-being, health, and security of our Nation and of the world." The strategy the council is tasked with developing will outline key priorities for advancing gender equity and equality in both domestic and foreign policy, as well as a roadmap describing how the council will lead the implementation of this work. The document must be submitted to the president by Sept. 24.
"We ask that President Biden and the White House Gender Policy Council acknowledge the importance of women's sports in our society by including it in your strategy to advance gender equity and equality," said Taylor in her remarks during today's listening session. "We also ask that you raise awareness of women's sports by inviting to the White House - in person or virtually - and recognizing its champions such as the U.S. National Women's Basketball Team, the University of Stanford women's basketball team, the University of Oklahoma softball team, and the University of Kentucky women's volleyball team."
Also participating in the listening session were:
- Laeticia Amihere, women's basketball student-athlete, University of South Carolina
- Caitlin Clark, women's basketball student-athlete, University of Iowa
- Nancy Hogshead-Makar, CEO of Champion Women, Title IX expert
- Carol Hutchins, Head Softball Coach, University of Michigan
- Terri Lakowski, CEO, Active Policy Solutions
- Lisa Langston, President, National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association
- Olivia Nelson-Ododa, women's basketball student-athlete, University of Connecticut
- Peg Pennepacker, Athletic Director retired, State College, Pennsylvania, Area School District
- Chris Plonsky, Chief of Staff and Executive Senior Associate Athletics Director, University of Texas
- Anna Wilson, women's basketball student-athlete, Stanford University
"The conditions our member coaches and their student-athletes experienced at the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship in San Antonio last March placed our sport at the forefront of the public discourse on gender equity," said Donehew. "The WBCA is honored to have this opportunity to lead on behalf of our coaches, our sport, and women's athletics, to ensure this discussion continues until it reaches a satisfactory conclusion."