Through the evolution of associations and legislation, the restrictions of women’s athletics lifted and created equality in athletics between the sexes. In addition, Dr Ruth H. Alexander, Weiss, and Lawler are responsible for the establishment and success of Lady Gator athletics, specifically volleyball. Marilyn McReavy, with a career of 156-100 at UF, and Mary Wise whose reign includes 58 straight home wins lead Lady Gator’s volleyball to a prominent standing not only in the SEC, but also in the nation.
In 1967, the Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics for Women functioned under the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance.
Here, three championship divisions were established; 750 at the state level, 150 at the regional level, and 39 and the national level. In 1971, the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) was a product of the Commission. The primary concern (conflict) of the AIAW was the financial restriction placed on women’s athletics. No scholarship or financial aid was available to the athletes as well as a lack of money (support) for recruiting or coaching. In 1972, the U.S.
Congress passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which vehemently targeted sex discrimination. In 1975, Title IX gave universities 3 years to change the inequity and grant women’s athletics comparable funds. Dr. Ruth H. Alexander furthered funding equality, increasing from $16,000 to $1,300,000 between 1972 and 1980. As women were receiving more equal athletic privilege a problem developed in the administration of the Division I teams compared to Divisions II and III.
Coaches lead both men’s and women’s teams having two different sets of rules as well as two separate conferences often having conflicting dates.
The University of Florida officially approved eight Lady Gator sports, including volleyball, in the 1974-1975 school year. Two years later, six out of the eight sports teams finished in the top ten of the nation for quality of athletes and schedules. The first volleyball SEC tournament occurred in the 1979-1980 school year, three years prior to the NCAA’s request for a women’s tournament from each conference. In 1980, followed the Florida Women’s Intercollegiate Athletics Equity Act. As Alexander’s successor, Weiss came from the University of Utah in 1981 to “revive Lady Gator volleyball” and brought the University of Florida’s women’s athletic program up to 4th in the nation.
She hired Marilyn McReavy, one of two prominent Lady Gator volleyball coaches, who lead the gators until 1991 when Mary Wise was appointed head coach. Universities participated in both the AIAW and NCAA until 1984, when the antiquated AIAW dissolved. Lawler followed in 1985 and under athletic director Bill Arnsparger, secured top coaches, athletes and created a prevailing women’s program in both athletics and academics.
The University of Florida’s women’s volleyball team has had numerous coaches over the years beginning with their first year as a club team in 1974. As a graduate student, Valerie Abram started the first UF club team. The first match that they ever played in was against Lake City Community College in Norman gym in Lake City.
Abram coached them throughout their first season ending with a 7-7 record. Soon after that season, Dr. Ruth Alexander hired Kay Johnson to coach in 1975.
Johnson earned her bachelor’s degree in Physical Education at Eastern Kentucky University where she also coached for many years. As the first official coach of the women’s club team, Kay led the Lady Gators to a 10-6 season. However, she did not last long as head coach as Dr.
Alexander decided to hire Bob Westbrook as the head coach in 1976.
With Westbrook as the head coach, Jill Stumpe was hired as the team administrator. Stumpe had played volleyball previously at Murray State University. That year they placed second in an eight-team tournament in Tampa, which showed improvement from the previous seasons. However, throughout the course of the season, the team began playing tougher opponents and only finished the season with a 17-18 record. Westbrook continued to be the head coach until 1979, when the UAA discontinued women’s volleyball because it used too much of the athletic budget the school needed for other sports.
In 1984, Marilyn McReavy became coach of the UF volleyball team when Title IX forced the .