In a time when women athletes were not promised equal treatment from their universities, Teri Casperson ’74 made history just by daring to be herself. As a student, multi-sport athlete, and future advocate, she was a force both on and off the court.
Two years before Casperson graduated, Congress approved Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX “prohibits sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity) discrimination in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” It was and continues to be an unprecedented step in the battle for equality even 50 years later.
Universities reevaluated their programs and made changes to ensure that men’s and women’s intercollegiate athletic teams were treated equally in the number of teams, facilities, and finances. Capital’s changes included raising the women’s budget in 1972-1973 from $2,000 to over $11,000 by 1975-1976.
“I don’t think we realized a lot of it then. We didn’t see an initial trickle down with things right away. Eventually, there was a push to expand,” said Casperson. “It evolved quite a bit from ’70 through ’74. When I started, we were part of the Women’s Recreation Association and the matches that we had were very close to the area.”
In 1971, Capital joined the Ohio Valley League, which sponsored women’s intercollegiate athletics. Joining the league allowed Casperson and her teammates to compete against schools such as The Ohio State University, Bowling Green State University, and smaller colleges. The Ohio Athletic Conference did not organize women’s athletic programs until 1984.
“One of my most memorable games was when we went to The Ohio State University and we actually played their varsity basketball team,” said Casperson. “We held our own for a while and played our hearts out.”
During her time at Capital, Casperson played volleyball, basketball, softball, and tennis.
“I got into sports right away with the volleyball team. I played volleyball and basketball that first year, which expanded the people I got to know on campus. My experiences as a student were pretty typical. As a student-athlete, as a woman student-athlete, it was probably quite different than it is now,” she said.
Women’s teams played and practiced at the Columbus campus and the trips on the “Purple Power Bus” continue to be a core memory for Casperson. A separate women’s locker room in Alumni Gym was not constructed until 1974, and a training room compatible for both sexes was built at the same time.
While Casperson did not play at Alumni Gym as a student-athlete, she was welcomed on the court as an official and coach after graduating with her health and physical education degree.
“A couple of my teammates and I took volleyball and basketball officiating courses. I was a certified official for both and that was part of the way that I earned a few extra bucks. I continued after I graduated and started teaching in schools,” said Casperson. “I stayed connected to Capital.”
In 1976, Casperson served as the Assistant Coach for the Capital Women’s Basketball team and stayed on until she was asked to be the Interim Head Coach during the 1979-1980 season.
During her career as a high school educator and a coach, Casperson was a strong advocate for women in sports, often tackling the big issues head-on, including unequal pay for high school coaches.
“If you were coaching a girls’ team, the stipend was much lower than if you were coaching a guy’s team. I was involved in trying to improve that and made some strides,” said Casperson. “They weren’t huge, but they were steps. The future has a lot of opportunities and you just have to make the most of where you are at the time.”
In 2008, Casperson retired from The Ohio State Athletics Department, where she was a longtime academic counselor. In 2015 she received the Barbie Tootle Buckeye Spirit Award. The Teri Casperson Academic Achievement Award is awarded annually to the OSU senior with the highest cumulative grade point average.
For more information about Capital Athletics, visit https://athletics.capital.edu/.
For more information about Teri Caperson’s career after she left Capital, visit https://ohiostatebuckeyes.com/osu-to-honor-casperson-teitelbaum-for-tootle-bailey-awards/
To learn more about Title IX, visit https://www.capital.edu/about-capital/title-ix-and-sexual-harassment/.