Boulder suffered a tumultuous year in 1974. The city's first and only African-American mayor, Penfield Tate II, was elected, then faced a recall petition because he was in favor of protecting the rights of gay citizens. He escaped the recall, but fellow councilman Tim Fuller did not.
Eight bombings rocked the city, including those that killed six young Chicano activists. A referendum vote defeated a change in the city laws to protect "homosexuals" from discrimination. Reports claimed Rocky Flats was leaking plutonium. The University of Colorado's president was fired, as was the county planning director.
But there was a bright spot of progressiveness on campus when CU hired its first coordinator of women's athletics, Jane Wahl.
Two years earlier, President Nixon had signed Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX stated that no person shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in programs or activities receiving federal funds.
Colleges and universities had until July 21, 1978, to comply with the new law or risk losing millions of dollars in federal funding.
Wahl was coaching high school girls in Illinois when a former student clipped an ad for an opening in the intramurals program at CU and mailed it to Wahl. She applied and was contacted by CU officials who convinced her she was a good fit for the newly created women's sports coordinator position.
Wahl, 29, began the job that would change the course of women's athletics at CU on Aug. 1, 1974.
The following year, her title was changed to Director of Women's Athletics.
From a group of club sports, six women's teams — basketball, track and field, gymnastics, swimming, tennis and skiing — were selected for varsity competition. A contest was held to determine a name for the women's teams and Lady Buffs was chosen.
Because of a limited budget, coaches were employed part time and given small honorariums, mostly from student fees.
Wahl recalled that it was difficult to recruit athletes in the beginning of her tenure because there wasn't money for scholarships. But before long, Wahl had secured 48 scholarships for women athletes. The first scholarship was awarded to Kim McCoy, an all-state basketball player from Fairview High School, according to the book "Glory Colorado!" by William Davis.
The fledgling program also was challenged with a student body that was not in favor of increasing fees to support the growing program, according to Daily Camera stories.
Wahl was surprised to hear from some of CU's female athletes that she was hated by the male athletes. But she also remembered receiving unexpected support from outside the realm of athletics.
In a recent email interview, Wahl remembered, "For the sake of funding athletic opportunities, the women's program became part of the then Men's Athletic Department." The merger was completed in 1978.
In the spring of 1979, Wahl resigned to finish her doctorate in education. She completed her Ed.D. at CU in 1981 with a thesis on Title IX and went on to teach, coach and direct women's athletics at Linfield College in Oregon.
Wahl was invited to the CU Events Center in 2014 to receive the inaugural Jane Wahl Legacy Award. The accolade was to be given annually to a member of the CU women's basketball community who, through her achievements, brought honor and recognition to the university and CU athletics. She returned to Boulder on Jan. 11 to present the second Jane Wahl Legacy Award to Carol Callan.
Of the pivotal events in 1974, we look back on some with sadness and shame. But Boulder can be proud of Wahl. Ever spiritual and humble, Wahl seems quick to downplay her importance. Perhaps she began as an "accidental" athletic director, but Wahl made a lasting positive impact on women's sports at CU.