Media’s Impact on Women’s Basketball

While Title IX laid down the foundation for equal funding of men’s and women’s athletics in all universities, including UW-Green Bay, the media helped the effects of Title IX accelerate. This is not to say that Title IX did not have an impact on women’s athletics because it definitely had an impact; however, women’s athletics excelled after the media exposed the success of women’s athletics at UWGB. Title IX enforced the equal funding of men’s and women’s athletics; however, men’s programs were still more widely supported from a fan perspective than women’s. With the media, women’s and men’s athletics were put on more level ground in terms of a fan base and a well-known reputation. This is specifically shown in UWGB Women’s Basketball.

Title IX’s Impact

When Title IX was first enacted, it was accepted and followed by UWGB in legal terms. The athletic director during the time Title IX was created, Bruce Grimes, in compliance with Title IX, hired the first women’s basketball and field hockey coach, Carol Hammerle, in 1973. The university began to add women’s sports, beginning with women’s basketball and field hockey. When field hockey failed due to a lack of players and no place to practice, Hammerle focused on creating a basketball team. After four years of building the program, the university created the Phoenix Sports Center for the women to play in.

carol hammerle
Carol Hammerle

Hammerle explained that men’s soccer and basketball were the money-making sports of UWGB at the time. After Title IX, the university realized they would have to create and equally fund women’s soccer and basketball. However, scholarships were only given to men’s athletics. Therefore, to get the money for women’s scholarships, women’s basketball for example, had to fundraise by doing bake sales and softball games. It was only after Men’s Basketball became NCAA Division I in 1981, that Women’s Basketball was also required to be NCAA Division I, which happened in 1982, that women were required to also receive scholarships.

Hammerle emphasized the delayed impact of Title IX when she stated in an interview, “probably ten years [passed] from the time [Title IX] was initiated before it really started to make some impact. It was a growing period.” Title IX clearly started women’s sports; however, as Hammerle mentioned, it took a while before it was officially the law of the land, and it did not put men’s and women’s athletic programs on equal grounds in terms of support.

Media’s Impact

ESPN wrote many articles on UWGB Women’s Basketball

Media is what helped women’s basketball soar to the top in terms of support. With the media, UWGB women’s basketball was exposed, allowing them to gain recognition. This recognition is what helped the program receive more fan support, which created a brand name for the university, and more specifically, for women’s basketball.

Below are quotes from Carol Hammerle, the first women’s basketball head coach; Jeanne Stangel (Barta), a former basketball player at UWGB; Kevin Borseth, the current head women’s basketball coach at UWGB; and Dan Spielmann, the athletic director at UWGB from 1985-1994. A cause and effect relationship of media is portrayed in each of the quotes.

  1. Carol Hammerle:  “The attendance [at women’s basketball games] was never really great . . . . But then a big turning point, and again I still remember this was we were, had an ESPN game . . . . it was on at midnight. So I can remember getting there at ten o’clock and . . . . the entire place was packed . . . And I really think that was a huge turning point for the program.”

Cause: Media (ESPN)

Effect: Greater fan and community support

jeanne stangel
Jeanne Stangel (Barta); former UWGB women’s basketball player, Senior Administrator, and Associate Athletic Director

2. Jeanne Stangel: “A follower (Graham Hayes) from ESPN several years ago – that was one of the key indicators that helped turn our program (women’s basketball) around. He decided that – you know he picked us up off the radar screen and said, ‘you know, this is a team to watch and they’ve got something unique and special happening. I’ve got to go figure this out.’ And he’s been following us around ever since the sweet 16 . . . and all that exposure helps . . . He’s helped us expand and recruit beyond the state of Wisconsin. Now because of media exposure and having a successful program, you know, success brings more success.”

Cause: Media (ESPN)

Effect: Better chances for recruitment outside of Wisconsin (for both students and athletes)

3. Dan Spielmann: “[Women’s athletics] certainly gave us some name recognition when we went to the NCAA tournaments a number of times when Carol Hammerle was coach and starting when [Kevin Borseth] became coach . . . I think the perception of the institution since that time has showed that we are a good institution, good academics . . . I think athletics in general, but women’s sports as well helped the reputation of the institution.”

Cause: Media

Effect: Positive reputation of the university (for athletics and for students)

Women’s Basketball team get sent off to the NCAA tournament by fans and Action 2 News

4. Kevin Borseth: “We get articles from Graham Hayes for ESPN. Graham Hayes has probably written a half dozen articles us over the years, so we’ve gotten national media attention as well. So I think the success of our program really brought the local, regional, and national media to our program and exposed it to a lot of people throughout the country.”

Cause: Media (ESPN)

Effect: Name brand for the university (positive reputation)

Why Recognition is Important

Recognition is important because it brings more fans to the game, and with more people that want to see the program succeed comes more sponsors, boosters, and booster club members, which brings more money into UWGB women’s basketball.

Recognition (Media coverage) → More fans → More sponsors and booster club members → Increased money towards women’s basketball.

UWGB fans cheering on the women’s basketball team

Fast Facts:

  1. Ticket Revenue increased 225% from the Phoenix Sports Center to the Kress Events Center in 10 years
  2. The seating capacity of Phoenix Sports Center was 1,850 and with the Kress Events Center, the seating capacity for UWGB Women’s basketball increased to 4,018.
  3. Attendance of KEC cracked the top 50 in the nation for average attendance in 2011-12, ranking #43
  4. In 2011, when UWGB women’s basketball made it to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament, the university saved $10,035,784 due to free advertising, like the news, Facebook, twitter, etc.
  5. In 1994, the women’s basketball team made their first appearance in NCAA tournament
  6. In 2001, the women’s basketball team was recognized as the #1 team in the nation by WBCA Academic Top 25 with a 3.48 team GPA

Clearly, the media created the law for equal opportunities for men and women in terms of support. The media helped bring better support to women’s basketball, which ultimately led to more sponsors, and thus, more money towards women’s basketball.