Devine came to Kent in 1969 without a

By Don Dreger Record-Courier assistant sports edit Published:

Devine came to Kent in 1969 without a job and now leaves without employment, having made a decision to retire on June 30. However, in between, life has been one surprise and joy after another.

Devine has seen and been a big part of the growth of women's athletics from intramurals to world-class competition in many different sports. Many women owe people like Devine a multitude of thanks for implementing Title IX legislation into opportunities for girls and women.

"Many people have asked why I'm leaving," said Devine. "I just feel it's time to take time for Judy. I've not spent three days home in a row for ages. My mother and aunts live nearby, and I want to spend time with them.

"The people at the university have been wonderful to work with over the years. Many are friends for life. I've particularly enjoyed working with (director of athletics) Laing Kennedy. He has instilled respect for the individual. All the staff has responded, and now Kent State is the class of the Mid-American Conference."

Devine has been described as the consummate professional.

"We will not be able to replace Judy because of her knowledge, experience and reputation," said Kennedy. "She is one of the finest administrators I've ever worked with. She is totally loyal to Kent State and the athletic staff. She is committed to the student-athlete."

Growing up as a child in Wyoming and Colorado, Devine had little thought of ending up in the midwest, particularly in Kent. However Kent wasn't all that strange, for her father, Harold Devine, had been born in Ravenna and graduated from Kent Roosevelt High School. She had visited here on occasion to be with her father's family. Two sisters of her father, Dortha Tennant (Ravenna) and Jan Ward (Brimfield), plus brother Woody Devine (Ravenna), are still alive and well.

Harold Devine, a decent athlete in his day, went to college at Ohio State and upon graduation in 1942 enlisted in the army. He was stationed in Fort Warren, Colorado, where he met Dickie Dickinson, his future bride. Harold decided to stay in the west, where both Judy and her older brother Jim were born.

Born in 1947 in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Judy moved to Colorado and graduated from Greeley High School. She started college at Colorado State Teachers College and transferred to Colorado State University, where she graduated summa cum laude in physical education and health in 1969.

She picked Kent State to do her graduate work.

"Kent State had one of the top schools in exercise physiology, and that is why I picked it," said Devine. "It had nothing to do with my family. I had no intention of staying beyond my masters degree."

Devine, a tenured member of the faculty, stayed and now has 31 years in at Kent State.

In August of 1970, Devine started full time at Kent State, coordinating the teaching of equestrian in the physical education department. Classes were held at Sun Beau Valley in Ravenna.

"I had spent many hours as a girl on a horse, so it was natural for me," said Devine. "I guess I'm just a cowgirl at heart."

Devine, who played field hockey, volleyball, basketball, softball and ran track while at college, undertook coaching these sports at Kent State.

"In the beginning, the coaches were all unpaid volunteers," said Devine. "Athletes were women just like me, who wanted the opportunity to play. We had to raise money for our trips and for equipment. It was a lot of fun, but it wasn't easy."

But Title IX was implemented in 1975, and women's sports were quickly on the rise.

"In 1975, women's athletics was transferred over to the newly form department of intercollegiate athletics from women's physical education," said Devine. "Mike Lude had been hired to run the department in 1972. When women came over in 1975, I was hired as a part time director. I had a half-time teaching load and half-time administration job. I also was coaching field hockey and basketball. These coaching positions finally had stipends in 1977.

"In 1975, there was a different governing body for women," said Devine. "It was outside Mike's experience, so he gave me free rein. We had no scholarships, nor were we allowed to recruit. We had no documentation for eligibility. It was starting at the beginning of everything. There wasn't any precedent. It was a time of creativity."

Devine was asked if she ever thought that women's athletics would progress this far.

"I was brought up in a different world," noted Devine. "I was always around sports because of my dad's own prowess as an athlete, but it was a man's world. Women just weren't involved in competitive athletics.

"When I first came here, I knew there were women who were as interested as I was. But I had no clue we would ever compete like the boys. Many classes like theory of coaching and training were not offered to women. Once these classes were opened to women, we began to expand at a faster rate. No doubt there was a lot of discrimination.

"All of us all over the country were treading in unfounded waters. It was a great time. We created a lot of athletes from open tryouts out of the student body."

Compliance has been a big part of Devine's job.

"Wherever there are rules, there is someone who will break them," said Devine, whose job description included handling Kent State's compliance with the NCAA . "It is sad, but nevertheless the truth. All sports have rules, so we have to keep track of them."

On the subject of the student-athlete, Devine is very specific.

"On a college campus, we, as a staff, have a moral obligation to be good stewards for the mission of the institution," she said. "If the kids aren't interested in getting an education, they don't belong here or at any college.

"Our athletes do quite well. There is a call for increased accountability. The par has been raised for the student-athlete, and they have met it. Our graduation rate is up as it should be. And it will increase."

One thing that Devine has found disturbing is the loss of men's sports in most colleges (tennis, ice hockey, gymnastics, soccer and swimming at Kent State). Once money for scholarships had to be evenly distributed between men and women some men's sports were discontinued, even if they were funded independently.

"It is devastating that any sport be lost for the student-athletes," said Devine. "Athletics has so much to offer in any sport that it saddens me greatly when I see a school's solution to a Title IX problem is to drop a men's sport. There are other alternatives that should have been explored and used in my view."

For now cleaning out the office and playing golf fill the agenda of Devine, who has sat on many NCAA committees and may still do some work nationally.

"Once I get settled in, there may be an opportunity for me as a consultant for the NCAA," said Devine. "But right now, it's off to the golf course."

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