UALR held a birthday party for Trojan women sports pioneer, and 2010 Alumni Association Presidents Award winner Betty Jo Stephens at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15. The party took place before the home game between the Trojans, the 2012 Sun Belt Conference Champion, and the Missouri State Lady Bears at Jack Stephens Center.
The pre-game event in the Legends Room at the Jack Stephens Center included tickets to the game with all contributions to benefit the Betty Jo Stephens Women’s Athletic Fund.
Stephens, who attended UALR’s precursor, Little Rock Junior College, competed on the LRJC tennis team, played on city league softball teams, and officiated women’s basketball.
In 1967, she became a physical education instructor at Little Rock University and was promoted to associate professor in 1973. She went on to become the Athletic Department women’s coordinator. Throughout Stephens’ tenure on the faculty, women’s athletics developed from intramural to extramural, culminating with NCAA varsity teams.
In 1979, she went to court to force compliance of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, which requires equal treatment with men for women’s athletics at schools that receive any federal funds. As a result of her actions, facilities for women athletics expanded and budgets increased.