CHICAGO – The accolades and honors keep rolling in for newly enshrined Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame coach Doug Bruno.And it couldn’t happen to a more deserving individual.
On Thursday—the 50th anniversary of Title IX—Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that the face of DePaul women’s basketball entering his 37th season in Lincoln Park is being honored with the City of Chicago Title IX Champion Award.
In addition to Bruno, legendary women’s sports trailblazer and one of the greatest women’s tennis players of all-time Billie Jean King will receive the Title IX Legend Award and WNBA champion and perennial All-Star Candace Parker will be saluted with the Title IX Leader Award.
The city is planning a series of events during Chicago Title IX Week (July 17-23). Chicago Title IX Week is made possible through the support of the Chicago Bears, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Bulls, Chicago Cubs, Chicago Fire, Laura Ricketts and Brooke Skinner Ricketts, One Chicago Fund, Chicago Park District, Chicago Public Library, Chicago Red Stars, Chicago Sky and Chicago White Sox.
Bruno, King and Parker will be presented with their Title IX Hero Awards on Tuesday, July 19 during a 5 p.m. ceremony and reception at the Chicago Cultural Center. Bruno and Parker will be in attendance with King joining by video.
“Coach Bruno is a tremendous leader and human being – coaching thousands of girls and women in basketball, but most importantly leading by example and teaching life skills beyond the basketball court,” said Amy Eshleman, wife of Mayor Lightfoot. “Lori and I are thrilled to honor coach Bruno with the Chicago Title IX Champion Award.
“Lori and I are privileged to know Doug Bruno and his infectious love of his hometown Chicago, his family, his faith, basketball and all things DePaul University. We are grateful for his wisdom, his leadership and continued fierce advocacy for the civil rights of women and girls in Chicago and beyond.
“The 37 words of Title IX for me are about ongoing opportunity and possibility. The possibility of young women and girls like our daughter not just continuing to have to struggle and fight for equality, but understanding there should be no limits as a person to dream and be whatever she strives to be. We’ve come long way, but there is still much work to be done.”
Title IX became the law of the land on June 23, 1972.
Bruno—who has spent much of his lifetime in the trenches staunchly advocating for gender equity along with equal treatment and equal pay for women—was humbled by this latest tribute.
“I would first like to thank the city of Chicago for this distinctive honor,” said Bruno who has led the Blue Demons to 25 NCAA tournaments including four berths in the Sweet 16. “The opportunity for a young girl to be educated through athletics is not based on some quota. It is a fundamental civil right.
“Title IX is a federal civil rights law, not just some rule. The United States of America is the greatest country in the world. However, inequality still exists in the USA.
“Gender inequality has made significant strides since Title IX was enacted 50 years ago. Unfortunately, it remains all-too prevalent in our country. The battle for gender equality—just like the battle for racial equality—is a fight that must be waged every day.”
Bruno could not imagine a better place to figuratively take up arms against this ongoing injustice than a university whose namesake—16th century French priest St. Vincent de Paul—lived his life making sacrifices to help the less fortunate.
“DePaul was the first Catholic university to enroll women back in 1911,” said Bruno who has racked up a magnificent 758-367 record in 36 seasons. “Since then, there have been many people behind the fight for gender equality and Title IX at DePaul.
“The first Athletic Board chair Dr. Patricia Ewers. Faculty members Dr. Jean Nordberg and Millie Schemluck. Tina Brown who was in effect our first Senior Women’s Administrator. Former student-athlete, assistant coach, administrator and athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto. Former vice-president Fr. Edward Riley. Former athletic director Gene Sullivan.
“DePaul’s mission is to take care of the marginalized and underserved in our society. When so many other institutions paid lip service to this groundbreaking federal legislation, DePaul embraced Title IX from day one.”
Happy 50th birthday, Title IX.