Dr. Joseph Panza, Southern professor specialized in leadership development and sports management among others, comments on second annual Sports Management Spring Event, this Friday April 13 at 10:30 am in the Adanti Student Center Theater. Panza says guest speaker Donna Lopiano is an expert and pioneer in gender equality in sports and Title IX. Lopiano, named one of “The 10 Most Powerful Women in Sports” by Fox Sports will speak about looking back and going forward in the search for true equality in athletics.
Why did you feel it is important to bring Donna Lopiano to Southern this year?
This year marks the 40-year of the passage of Title IX and commemorates four decades of women since the law past. She, like me, grew up in the fifties. I never played with girls on athletic fields. It just wasn’t allowed, the law prohibited it. I was in my forties the first time I stepped on the field with women in a co-ed game. Women were forbidden. Donna was told she couldn’t play little league as a kid. She was lucky enough to find a place to play softball and was a spectacular athlete. But she played in a time where she couldn’t even make the argument she could play with the boys. Title IX is really an extension of the civil rights movement. [President Lyndon] Johnson signed it under the legacy of [President John F.] Kennedy.
What can the Southern community gain from hearing such an influential woman, like Donna speak?
An appreciation for how we got to where we are today. Two, three, four generations of women got the chance to play because of people like Donna who fought the system for the right to play. That’s the difference and that’s why it is significant. People from the Women’s Studies Department and independent researchers are coming. This is the kind of thing that supercedes past sports. It has so many other layers.
Have you reached out to the athletic department?
Yes, we are expecting coaches to come, as well as female athletes. Both of our top athletic administrators are females. The entire department has been nothing but supportive.
This is the second Sports Management Spring Event, why are they significant?
This is my second year in the planning of the annual event, and next year will be my third and last as I retire. We’ve already got ideas for next year and we have to start planning, really next week, because everyone’s schedule is so busy. We’ve already done baseball and now women’s sports, next I’m thinking about football or basketball and will just keep networking and talking to people. People are eager to come help out and speak.
How did you manage to book Donna?
We actually got an email from her last year. In correspondence, Professor MacGregor and I picked her brain and found out this was the 40 year since Title IX passed, so we booked her for the Spring Event. At the time, she was looking for a possible position teaching but we didn’t have anything at the time. However, she will be an adjunt next year, teaching areas including Title IX and women in sports.
How has this event changed?
Donna is a very sweet nice person and we are very proud to have her coming to not only speak but teach at Southern. There is no other panel this year, like we had with Bobby Valentine last year. This is a one woman show. There aren’t very many experts on Title IX, but Donna’s presentation is really excellent. It is free to everyone, and is a first come first serve basis for seats this Friday, April 13, in the theatre.
— RYAN MORGAN