The Right Thing to Do: Kit Saunders-Nordeen and and the Rise of Women’s Intercollegiate Athletics at the University of Wisconsin and Beyond


If you’re a Mac Safari user and having trouble loading items in the cart, be sure to UNCHECK “block all cookies” in the privacy settings: Preferences > Privacy.

Published in the 50th anniversary year of the landmark Title IX gender equity legislation becoming law, The Right Thing to Do is both a chronicle of the rise of women’s intercollegiate athletics in the United States and a biography of one of the movement’s leaders, Kit Saunders-Nordeen, the first director of women’s athletics at the University of Wisconsin.

When Kit arrived on the Madison campus for graduate school in 1964, competitive athletics for women was actively discouraged.

Kit established a vibrant non-varsity women’s sports program at UW. The passage of Title IX in 1972 provided a boost. Kit was named the UW’s first director of women’s intercollegiate athletics in 1974, signaling varsity status for women. Yet in 1979, the UW women’s crew famously changed clothes outside the men’s athletic director’s office – they still didn’t have a locker room.

Against this backdrop of administrative struggle, the young women athletes shined. Stars emerged, national championships were won. The public took notice. In 1990, a women’s volleyball match in Madison drew nearly 11,000 fans.

The story of Kit Saunders-Nordeen and the rise of women’s intercollegiate athletics will stir any reader who cares about sports and fair play – on and off the field