COLUMBUS, Ohio – While plenty of trailblazers in women’s sports have passed through Ohio State Athletics, none would have been possible without Ohio State’s pioneer in women’s intercollegiate athletics – Phyllis Bailey.
Bailey first arrived on campus in 1956 to pursue a PhD and work with women’s sports. That same year, she became the first women’s varsity basketball coach for the Buckeyes and thus her collegiate athletics career at Ohio State started. Two years later, she became the coordinator of women’s sports in the physical education department and helped elevate women’s athletics from intramural status to varsity in 1965, making Ohio State’s women’s intercollegiate athletic program the first and largest in the Big Ten.
Her efforts in advancing female student-athlete participation did not just impact Ohio State student-athletes, but women nationwide. Bailey helped oversee the 1971 establishment of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, which organized and recognized female intercollegiate competition for the first time. The passing of Title IX in 1972 and the acceptance of women in the NCAA in 1981 resulted in a restructure of the Ohio State Athletics Department with Bailey appointed the first administrator over women’s athletics.
After a 39-year career during which she served as an instructor, advisor, coach and administrator, Bailey retired from Ohio State in 1994. In 1993, she was a member of the first class of women inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame.
Bailey continues to be synonymous with the advancement of women’s sports at Ohio State to this day. And because of her work, countless female student-athletes across the country have achieved successful collegiate athletics careers.