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University of Arkansas Athletic Department, Women's Athletic Director Records

Identifier: MC 1880.UA

Scope and Content Note

Materials were collected by Ruth Cohoon, the first director for a University of Arkansas funded Women's Athletic program. The collection contains correspondence, meeting minutes, budgets, reports, scholarship materials, and survey and research materials. In addition, there is a large portion about Title IX and the University of Arkansas compliance. Cohoon was also involved in a number of professional organizations at the state, regional and national level. The collection contains materials pertaining to membership, meetings and committees Cohoon participated in. Cohoon was not just interested about women athletes at the U of A, but also about women's athletic programs around the country. Articles, surveys and research papers about women athletes in general can be found throughout the collection. A small portion of materials were originally collected by colleagues and given to Cohoon upon leaving the department. These women were Dr. Barbara Taylor and Dr. Frances Wood. Dr. Frances Wood was a colleague in the Health Science Kinesiology, Recreation and Dance (HKRD) Department and a member of the U of A Women's Athletics Committee. Wood's files are located with the appropriate subject matter within the collection. Dr. Barbara Taylor chaired a Title IX Committee, which is the subject of her files in this collection. She retired in 2010 from her position as Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources. Her files can be found in the Title IX Series.


  • 1954-2010
  • Majority of material found within 1968-1999

Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Access Information

Restrictions Apply: All materials in Series V are restricted and not available for research.

Please call (479) 575-8444 or email at least two weeks in advance of your arrival to ensure availability of the materials.

Use Information

No Use Restrictions Apply.

No Interlibrary Loan.

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).

Biographical Note

Women at the University of Arkansas first competed in sports through Play Days and Sports Days. Play Days were similar to an all day tournament of one sport, while Sports Days consisted of a day of multiple sports competitions. These paved the way for the emergence of intramural and club teams, extramural teams, and lastly, intercollegiate competition, which only came in the later part of the 20th Century.

The Women’s Athletic program began as part of the College of Education department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. Women physical education faculty served as supervisors, chaperones and then coaches for female students who asked to participate in competitive sports. Coaching was done on a purely voluntary basis in addition to any teaching commitments.

In 1965-1966, women physical educators from institutions of higher education across Arkansas met to discuss state-wide athletic competition. As a result the Arkansas Women’s Extramural Sports Association (AWESA) was formed. The name changed to the Arkansas Women’s Intercollegiate Sports Association (AWISA) in 1973. The University of Arkansas joined this organization in 1968 and remained a member until 1976.

In 1972, women’s sports programs across the country began to grow as a result of Title IX. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. On July 1, 1972 the University of Arkansas Administration formally funded an extramural sports program exclusively for women. The original budgetary allocation was $5,000, and six sports were offered: archery, bowling, golf, gymnastics, swimming and tennis. Committees were formed to examine the University Title IX compliance in both 1979 and 1989.

Many more changes took place in the 1970’s. In 1974, the program name became Women’s Intercollegiate Sports. Also in the 1974-1975 academic year, women coaches were granted a teaching load reduction of 20% during the semester in which they coached. In 1977, women coaches received a load comparable to men teacher-coaches with a work load of 66 2/3% teaching and 33 1/3% coaching. Athletic scholarships were awarded for the first time to women in 1976. In 1977, the program came under the direction of the University Campus Faculty Committee on Athletics. Then in 1979, the program was moved from the College of Education into the Athletic department. About this time the program began hiring full time coaches for women’s sports, including basketball, swimming, tennis, and track and cross country.

In addition to the AWISA, the University also became members in regional and national organizations. University members began participating in the Southwest Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women in 1974. University members began participating in the national organization known as the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) at its beginning in 1973 and continued to participate until the end of the organization around 1982. It was at this point that women’s athletics departments across the country began moving to the NCAA.

Ruth Cohoon was instrumental in taking women’s athletics at the University of Arkansas from Play Days to a fully funded Women’s Athletics program. Cohoon joined the University of Arkansas as a swimming instructor in 1965. In 1971, Cohoon volunteered to do some extra administrative work and the next year was appointed to be the Director of the Women’s Intercollegiate Sports program. Over the next few years Cohoon’s teaching commitments decreased as her administrative responsibilities increased. In 1975, her teaching load was reduced from 8-10 classes down to five. Then as administrative responsibilities increased again, Cohoon decreased to teaching 1-3 classes a semester for the years 1982-1989.

Cohoon consistently fought for better funding, better equipment and better scholarships, resulting in better opportunities for women athletes. She repeatedly requested better salaries for women teachers and coaches to build a quality program. She strove to keep the University of Arkansas program competitive with women’s sports programs around the country by conducting surveys, participating in surveys sponsored by other schools, keeping current on publications and articles about women’s athletics, and actively participating in the AWISA, SWAIAW, AIAW, and NCAA, serving on committees and holding offices. Cohoon served on the Governing Board of the AWISA, the Executive Board and the Ethics and Eligibility Committee of SWAIAW, the Executive Board and the Ethics and Eligibility Committee of AIAW, and the Academic Requirements Committee of the NCAA. Cohoon also held the offices of secretary and treasurer for the SWAIAW.

Cohoon retired from her administrative position in 1989 but increased her teaching load back to 10-12 hours of Physical Education activity classes and then added a lecture class in 1992. Cohoon continued to teach until 1999. She was succeeded in the position of Director of Women’s Athletics by Bev Lewis in 1989, who held the position until the Athletic Department was restructured in 2008, and Lewis assumed a new position. In 2008, the Athletic Department was reorganized to encompass men’s and women’s athletics under a single administrative unit. The position of Director of Women’s Athletics was reorganized to associate vice chancellor for intercollegiate athletics and executive associate athletic director, making Ruth Cohoon and Bev Lewis the only women to hold the title of Director of Women’s Athletics at the University of Arkansas.


11 Linear Feet (12 boxes)

Arrangement of the Papers

Materials are arranged and described in six series

  1. Department Administration Materials
  2. Title IX Materials
  3. Organizations
  4. Photographs
  5. Restricted Materials
  6. Oversize Materials

Acquisition Information

Materials were donated to the Special Collections Department, University of Arkansas Libraries by Ruth Cohoon on July 16, 2010.

Processing Information

Processed by Amy Allen; completed in November 2010


University of Arkansas Athletic Department, Women's Athletic Director Records
Amy Allen
November 2010
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Department Repository

University of Arkansas Libraries
365 N. McIlroy Avenue
Fayetteville AR 72701 United States
(479) 575-8444