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Dr. R. Elaine Dreidame

Dr. R. Elaine Dreidame

Written by Anna Rose Redgate '20

For today’s UD students, it may be difficult to imagine a time when athletic opportunities have not been equitable to all. While some may credit Title IX for creating equal opportunities in sports, it is proponents like Dr. R. Elaine Dreidame, the first full-time female athletics administrator at UD, who are responsible for ensuring Title IX was applied and enforced in UD sports. A true pioneer of women’s athletics, Dreidame is one of the strongest advocates of equity and one of the key players in the successful and inclusive athletic programs at UD today.

A Cincinnati native, Dreidame graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1964, working towards a career in Physical Education, and followed that with a Masters of Education from the University of Cincinnati and a Doctorate in Administration of Higher Education from The Ohio State University. Her initial position at UD in 1970 included Assistant Professor of Physical Education, Women’s Intramural Director and Coach of the women’s basketball and volleyball teams. Immediately, Dreidame began to blaze a trail for equity. In her first year in her position, Dreidame hosted the first ever State of Ohio women’s intercollegiate basketball tournament, and the women’s basketball team played their games in the UD Arena for the first time. With the landmark passage of Title IX in 1972, Dreidame’s beliefs and work now had legal support to help further women’s sports. Title IX ensured that educational institutions could not discriminate on the basis of gender.

However, it was necessary for Dreidame to continue the uphill battle for equal treatment in women’s athletics. After being named Associate Director of Athletics at UD in 1974, Dreidame worked tirelessly to advance the women’s athletics program urging increased funding, opportunities, and scholarships for female athletes.  The women’s athletic budget was $3,000 when she arrived in 1970 and over $2 million when she retired in 1999.

Dreidame told Flyer News in ‘74, “People [will] appreciate a good athletic performance whether it comes from a man or a woman.” Operating on the ideals that sports offer a great deal of educational value that no one should be excluded from, the first athletic scholarship for women ($500) was awarded to basketball player Deirdre Kane in 1974.

For Dreidame, equity was never a goal with a definitive ending. Constantly challenging her colleagues to live up to the principles they were expected to uphold in their work, Dreidame took her advocacy to the next level. After spending four years on the NCAA Council she was elected to serve as the NCAA Vice- President for Division I. As one of the few women in these NCAA positions, Dreidame worked to ensure that Title IX was serving its purpose to benefit all athletes across the country.

In addition to receiving the Women’s Athletic Administrator of the Year by the National Association of Collegiate Women’s Athletic Administrators in 1993, Dreidame was inducted into the University of Dayton Athletic Hall of Fame in 1994. She was also one of the first recipients honored with the Miryam Award, which recognizes a person or organization who enhances the campus climate for the advancement of women.

Though one could make an extensive list of Dreidame’s awards, the advancement of women’s athletics under her guidance and direction is a profound achievement where all students continue to reap the benefits. While the campus community continues to strive for inclusion and equity at all levels, it becomes apparent that the fight is absolutely worth the reward of ensuring that women’s voices are heard loudly and clearly in all that they do.

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