BETHANY, W.Va. – Two longtime Bethany College coaches and physical education professors dedicated their Last Lecture to highlighting the 50th anniversary of Title IX and the changes it brought to women’s sports.

Jan Forsty, professor of physical education and head softball coach emerita, and John McGowan, professor emeritus of physical education and sports studies, presented “Title IX: 50-Year Anniversary and More” in Phillips Lounge in front of more than 70 students, alumni, faculty and staff.

Passed in 1972, Title IX prevents sex discrimination in schools or any other federally funded education program.

“Understand that it never said athletics,” Forsty said. “It never said women and never said sports in any of its language. It didn’t go there until it was enacted, and then the women went, ‘Oh, I think we can use this legislation,’ and which they did.”

Forsty described herself as a Title IX baby because she began playing sports before the passage of Title IX and witnessed how the law changed the playing field for women during her college days and throughout her career.

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She recalled playing basketball as a high school sophomore, wearing jean shorts instead of a uniform, with six on the court. With parent involvement and a competitive team, the next year they played five on five and had uniforms. By her senior year, she was able to play tennis and softball as well.

“Our parents were very involved at that point,” she said. “I always say that the best thing for Title IX is for all the football dads in the world to have all daughters, because, trust me, if their daughters are not getting a fair chance to play, the parents will get involved in it.”

When she arrived at Slippery Rock for college, she tried out with 124 girls for the basketball team. After not making the team, Forsty played tennis and is in the school’s hall of fame.

McGowan called his research into women’s sports “a fact-finding project.”

When he began researching women’s sports at Bethany, the college had 12 women’s championships and only four women and one coach in the hall of fame from that period.

“There has to be a couple of women who are good athletes on those teams, but the problem comes up that there were no stats,” McGowan said.

Coverage of women’s sports in the college’s archives is sporadic and not always accurate and coaches often kept their own stats in filing cabinets. The data improved, McGowan said, as information was kept digitally.

“One of the notable exceptions was in the late 60s, Carol Hunter,” McGowan said. “Carol Hunter started competing with the men’s tennis team and she became the first woman to compete in the men’s PAC competition. During the first season, she captured the No. 2 singles and with her brother captured the No. 1 doubles. She was a Face in the Crowd in Sports Illustrated and she was the first woman in the [Bethany Athletics] hall of fame. I did not count her in those four women because this was before Title IX and she was on the men’s team.”

As they concluded their lecture, Provost and Dean of Faculty Joe Lane emphasized the importance of Fousty’s and McGowan’s impact on women’s sports at Bethany.

For more than 40 years, McGowan played a significant role in bringing women’s varsity sports to Bethany and served as an administrator and coach for swimming, cross country, track and field, and women’s soccer.

Since joining Bethany in 1987, Forsty chaired the Department of Physical Education and coached softball, field hockey, soccer, volleyball, and tennis, leading teams to almost 20 PAC championships. She retired as the head softball coach in 2018 with the third-highest win total for NCAA Division III.

“In their characteristic humility these two downplayed probably the most important punchline in this event,” Lane said. “A lot of this doesn’t happen Bethany without the two people standing right here.”

McGowan’s research on women’s athletics at Bethany is temporarily available at the Phillips Memorial Library.

The entire lecture is available on Bethany’s YouTube channel.

During a reception after their Last Lecture, Lane presented Forsty and McGowan with Bethany College table lamps.


Bethany College, founded in 1840, is the oldest private college in West Virginia. The Bethany experience focuses on academic excellence in the area of liberal arts and prepares students for a lifetime of work and a life of significance.