Enhancing the experiences of young women in collegiate athletics is near and dear to the heart of Billie Floyd.
A longtime educator, State Senator and civic leader, Floyd is serving as honorary chair of East Central University’s new “Campaign for Excellence in Women’s Athletics.”
The purpose of the campaign is to provide additional funding for ECU’s Women’s Athletics as funds raised will be kept at the ECU Foundation, Inc.
“I’m excited to be a part of this new endeavor. We plan to divide the funds 70/30,” Floyd said. “Seventy percent will go toward establishing an endowment to support ECU Women’s Athletics for years to come and 30 percent will be used for immediate distribution. We have established a committee that will decide the distribution of the funds, based on the coaches’ recommendations and evaluations of priority.”
Floyd spent over 30 years at ECU, even serving as a physical education teacher at Horace Mann School on the ECU campus as a college sophomore. She graduated from ECU in 1951 and eventually earned a master’s degree from Texas Woman’s University, before launching a 30-plus year teaching career at ECU. She then made a successful bid for the State Senate in 1984 and served one term.
As for the campaign, Floyd is passionate about it as if she was running for office.
“The reason I ran for the State Senate was because of the Equal Rights Amendment. Everyone, regardless of race or gender, should be treated equally,” said Floyd. “Title IX was a real step forward for women’s athletics. But it’s always been an uphill battle for women.”
Floyd remembers the resistance of placing a volleyball court within a basketball court because of the lines painted on the court, limited use of equipment and the lack of scheduling opportunities.
“Women’s athletics hadn’t been treated equally up until Title IX and women’s basketball is a perfect example of how it has changed,” said Floyd, referring to the change of high school girls’ basketball from the six-on-six half-court game to the current five-on-five style and the increased popularity of women’s college basketball.
Floyd also pointed to the emphasis on nutrition for women and the changes and updates to women’s athletic apparel as steps in the right direction.
As for the campaign, it’s to get the women’s athletic program in the right position to succeed both on the court and playing field or in the pursuit of female athletes earning their degree.
"We want to give them a chance to show off their skills and talents,” Floyd said. “We want to recruit the best athletes and let them know what a value you get with higher education and becoming an excellent athlete.”
Floyd praised retiring ECU President John R. Hargrave and the administration for their support of the project.
“President Hargrave and his wife Kay have shown great faith in this as has others from the administrative level. They seem to show the need to elevate and bring (women’s) athletics to the forefront,” said Floyd. “They have invested in furthering opportunities to help women reach their potential."
For more information on the “Campaign for Excellence in Women’s Athletics” or to make a donation, contact the ECU Foundation, Inc. – Chief Executive Officer Craig Kurtz, at 559-5514 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Chief Operating Officer Buffy Lovelis at 580-559-5655 or email@example.com.