1979 – Council of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators

Our bold beginning

Women Leaders in College Sports has a rich history of advocacy, excellence, and leadership over the past 40 years and has gone through several iterations over time to become the powerful resource it is today.

The organization officially started in 1979 at the end of a decade that was described by our trailblazers as an amazing time of growth for athletics opportunities for girls and women following the passage of Title IX in 1972.

The catalyst for growth of women’s intercollegiate athletics opportunities in the 1970s was the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW). The AIAW was created in 1971 to develop and administer championship opportunities for women in collegiate competition. At its peak, the AIAW had over 1,000 member schools, and offered 41 championships in 19 sports. In 1980, it secured a 4-year television contract with NBC sports and had more member schools than the NCAA.

Our trailblazers were impactful leaders of this unprecedented growth in athletics opportunities for females, but they also note that this was a tumultuous time for women’s sports and equity. There was a backlash against Title IX in the 1970s. Powerful groups like the NCAA fought the law’s application to athletics. In addition, many colleges and universities merged their separate men’s and women’s athletics departments which resulted in a male athletics director leading both programs.

The AIAW staunchly defended Title IX throughout the 1970s and dealt with the NCAA’s multiple attempts to start championships for women. At the time, the NCAA was an organization primarily run by men that had only offered championships for men’s sports, and it had lobbied against Title IX and gender equity.
The common perspective of the overwhelming majority women at the time was that the NCAA was executing an unwelcome takeover of the AIAW: an association that had garnered success by supporting and elevating women’s athletics.

A very small minority of women, led by Judie Holland of UCLA, and Barbara Hedges of the University of Southern California, came together to support the move of women’s sports championships from the AIAW governing body to the NCAA. This was not a popular move at the time, and there was much debate about whether this was the best direction for women’s intercollegiate athletics. They believed this would be an avenue and platform for women’s voices to be heard by the NCAA.

In 1979, Judie and Barbara ultimately created the Council of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators (CCWAA), which later became the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators (NACWAA) and is now known as Women Leaders in College Sports.

For additional AIAW-NCAA timeline information, click here.

Original CCWAA Logo

Founding Members:

Judie Holland of UCLA

Barbara Hedges of the University of Southern California


World News

Susan B. Anthony 1979 Coin
Susan B. Anthony coin commemorated

Susan B. Anthony, an American social reformer and women’s rights activist, played a pivotal role in the women’s suffrage movement beginning in 1840. Susan traveled giving hundreds of speeches and working on state campaigns in support of women’s suffrage. She worked internationally for women’s rights, playing a key role in creating the International Council of Women, which is still active today. Initially, Susan was ridiculed for her fight for women’s rights, she was even accused of trying to destroy the institution of marriage. With this being said, she continued to fight for women’s rights and eventually changed the public’s perception of her. Form arranging for Congress to be presented with an amendment giving women the right to vote, to bringing the World’s Congress of Representative Women to the Chicago in 1893, Susan B. Anthony was a driving force for women’s equality. She also became the first women to be depicted on a US coin when she appeared on the 1979 dollar coin.