Invisible Seasons: Studying the Rhetoric of Title IX

Thirty-five years ago, a life-changing piece of legislation called Title IX was enacted into law in an effort to prohibit sex discrimination in federally funded education, including athletics. By mandating equal opportunity, Title IX provided a tool for people to set in motion far-reaching changes that would not only revolutionize America’s playing fields, but its political, social and cultural landscape as well.

In this research area, we consider how and why change takes place in a democracy by exploring the role of professional and activist communication in providing educational opportunities through college athletics. Among the projects that will come from this research is a print and digital book series on Title IX rhetoric and higher education athletics. The project reconstructs events in the movement for women’s athletics from 1972 to the present by using original oral history interviews, archival research, observations from visits to locations where the events unfolded, news articles, and legal documents.

Funding and support has been provided by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Kartemquin Films, the Illinois Council for the Humanities, the Illinois Arts Council, the Virginia Tech Institute for Society, Culture, and the Environment,and the Virginia Tech Department of English.


  • Belanger, Kelly. Invisible Seasons: Title IX and the Fight for Equity in College Sports. Syracuse UP, 2016.

Recent Presentations

  • Belanger, Kelly. “Invisible Seasons: A Story of Title IX and the People Who Changed College Sports.” Virginia Tech Department of English Faculty Colloquy.  24 October 2012.
  • Belanger, Kelly. “Title IX and Higher Education Athletics.” Guest Lecture. Women’s and Gender Studies. 12 September 2012.
  • Belanger, Kelly, and Gary Fetter. “Decision Support for Title IX Compliance and Athletic Department Decision Making.” Title IX at 40 National Conference. 10 May 2012.
  • Belanger, Kelly, Gary Fetter, and Mauro Falasca. “Equity in Athletics: Towards an Efficiency Analysis of Title IX Compliance.” Southeast Decision Sciences Institute. 2012.
  • Fetter, Gary, Kelly Belanger, and Mauro Falasca. “A Multi-Objective Decision Support System for Title IX Compliance.”  ALIO-INFORMS Joint International Meeting. Buenos Aires, Argentina. June 2010.
  • Belanger, Kelly. “Gender Equity in College Athletics: An Activist’s Story.” Through Feminist Eyes Speaker Series. Virginia Tech Women’s Center. 2010.
  • Belanger, Kelly, Gary Fetter, and Mauro Falasca.“The Art and Science of Title IX Compliance.” Eastern Educational Research Association 31st Annual Conference. 2008.
  • Belanger, Kelly. “Invisible Season: A Case Study of the 1978-79 Spartans.” Poster Presentation. Title IX Academic and Legal Conference. 2007.
  • Belanger, Kelly. ““Unsisterly Competition: Feminist Agency and Institutional Discourses in the US Movement for Women in Sport.” International Rhetoric in Society Conference. 2006.
  • Belanger, Kelly, and Megan Fisher. “Adapting Rhetoric for the Stages of a Social Movement: The Public Voice of the Women’s Sports Foundation.” Feminism(s) and Rhetoric(s). 2006.
  • Belanger, Kelly. “Title IX Discourses and the Rhetoric of Female Athletes.” Feminism(s) and Rhetoric(s). 2005.
  • Belanger, Kelly. “Title IX Narratives in Literature by and about Female Athletes.” Sports Literature Association. 2005.