National Champions Smith, Compton To Speak At Title IX Celebration

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AKRON, Ohio – The University of Akron Department of Athletics will host a special reception at InfoCision Stadium – Summa Field Saturday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Title IX and the Zips' long and storied history of women's athletics.

The event, which will be held on the FirstMerit Foundation Club Level (5th floor) of the football facility, will feature speaking appearances by former Zips' individual national champions Christi Smith (Track & Field) and Jenna Compton (Rifle), and others. Multiple Emmy award-winning broadcaster and author Connie Dieken will emcee the event.

All former and current UA female student-athletes are invited to attend an exclusive social hour from 10-11 a.m. Doors will then open to the public at 11 a.m. There will be no charge for admission.

All attendees should enter the stadium through the glass doors on Vine Street via the House of LaRose Lobby and park in either Lot 1 (East Parking Deck on the corner of Carroll and Spicer) or Lot 36 (Exchange Street Parking Deck on Exchange Street).

The Title IX celebration will precede the football team's Homecoming game against Mid-American Conference foe Bowling Green. The Zips and Falcons will kick off at 2 p.m. ET. Current and former female student-athletes will be recognized on-field during the game.

Smith, who won the women's heptathlon at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 2000, and Compton, who brought home top gun honors in the air rifle in 2009, represent two of the three individual national champions in Zips' history with Stevi Large Gruber (Track & Field, Hammer Throw in 2009) being the other.

All three were recently honored by being named to the school's top 40 list of its greatest female student-athletes of all time. Moreover, Smith was recognized as Akron's No. 1 female athlete in school history, followed by Compton (No. 2) and Large Gruber (No. 3).

The Zips' history of female athletics dates back to 1889 with the formation of the first tennis club and is highlighted by a number of historic moments. Evelyn Hooker, who played on the men's golf team, became the first UA female to earn a varsity letter in 1942, and Jean Linton not only became the school's first female four-year letterwinner in rifle, but also became Akron's first female athlete to garner All-American honors, not once, but twice in 1961 and 1962.

In all, more than 1,300 female student-athletes have earned at least one letter at The University of Akron while 13 teams have captured Mid-American Conference Championships. Additionally, rifle – which is a co-ed sport – has won 12 league championships in its two disciplines during the last decade.

Akron currently sponsors 11 Division I female sports – including basketball, cross country, golf, rifle, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, indoor and outdoor track and field, and volleyball – and more than 180 female student-athletes.

Title IX was passed into law on June 23, 1972, and mandated gender equity in all educational institutions receiving federal funding. Title IX's impact reaches far beyond athletics, but the groundbreaking legislation is most often associated with providing sports opportunities for women.