Out of Bounds: Athletics to lose a truly great woman, ambassador

The world of athletics is dominated by men, or at least that’s the perception.

As an example, the Ladies Professional Golf Association is rarely on network television; its male counterpart is on every weekend. The same could be said for softball versus baseball.

CBS showcased the North Carolina Tar Heels taking on the Michigan State Spartans for the Men’s Division I National Championship on April 6.’ The following night the Louisville Cardinals played the undefeated Connecticut Huskies’ ‘- and their male coaches, Jeff Walz and Gene Auriemma respectively ‘- in the women’s Division I title game … on national television (ESPN).

Now imagine it’s 1978 – do you believe it would have even been considered to put the UCLA/Maryland women’s championship game on NBC the day after Magic Johnson and his Michigan State Spartans beat Larry Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores? No way.

We’ve come a long way since then, and with people like Jane Meier in athletics, be it on a collegiate or professional level, we’ll go further.

During her 21-year tenure as Northern Kentucky University’s athletic director, Meier developed an athletic program that has won 61 Great Lakes Valley Conference regular season or tournament titles since she took over in 1988, an average of about three championships a year.

She took a Norse athletic program, which combined for 17 appearances in the NCAA’ Division II national tournament before her arrival, to 76 total appearances, 13 Final Four appearances and a couple national championships.

And she tabbed an Athletic Director of the Year award (2003-2004) to boot.

Her lasting legacy will in all likelihood be the transition of the basketball programs from Regents Hall to The Bank of Kentucky Center, a move that could one day help land NKU in the Division I ranks.’ The money she has brought in to the university is astounding and is a big reason why the Norse’s new home is such a state of the art one.

The perception may be that athletics is a male-dominated field, however there are incredible women all across the world of sports that are making tremendous things happen.’ NKU has had one of those women for better than 30 years now, and she’ll be leaving behind big shoes to fill by whoever replaces her. Man or woman.