By: William Pomeroy and Autumn Breeden
On March 28th, 2016 the Mississippi Sports Law Journal partnered with the Law Association for Women to a host a forum about Women in Athletics. Speakers included Lynette Johnson, Ann Carr, Kathryn Fowler, and Jordan Woolums. Lynette Johnson is in her 27th year overall with Ole Miss Athletics and is in her 18th year as a Sport Administrator and Senior Woman Administrator. Ann Carr is a 13 year veteran in athletic administration at Mississippi State, she currently serves as a Senior Associate Athletic Director of Women’s Sports, and she is a former Lady Bulldog athlete. Kathryn Fowler is a current second year Law Student, and was a four-year member of the Ole Miss Golf Team. Finally, Jordan Woolums is a current first year law student at Ole Miss and is a former soccer player at Indiana University.
Topics ranged from the current state of women’s sports in college to professional opportunities for female student-athletes beyond college. Mrs. Johnson spoke of the positive evolution that she has witnessed throughout her career in athletics. She spoke of witnessing the first women to hold head coach and administrative positions, as well as increased support for female athletes. She also stated that the best way to combat lesser attendance and coverage for female athletic events is to simply keep playing the sports. Networks, such as the SEC Network, have given rise to increased exposure of female athletics, which can only help increase interest in women’s sports. Both Ms. Carr and Mrs. Johnson used the recent success of women’s softball as an example of how television exposure has had a positive impact on a sport as a whole. Ms. Carr spoke of the need to provide female staff members at different universities a more welcoming atmosphere and increased support when they are placed in an unfamiliar setting. Issues that face both Ole Miss and Mississippi State in recruiting female coaches and administrators often revolve around family support, including things like on campus day care and employment opportunities for a spouse. Both Kathryn and Jordan spoke fondly about their experiences at Division I schools, and felt their athletic achievements had a positive effect on their educational and professional opportunities.
Overall, the event was attended by approximately 50 students and faculty who asked questions and listened attentively to the forum speakers. It was a positive conversation focusing on continuing to improve opportunities for female athletes, coaches and administrators.