Bettye Giles, the first and only director of women’s athletics at the UT Martin, was announced as a 2020 inductee into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame during halftime of the UT Martin women’s basketball game Friday night.
Giles founded the Tennessee College Women’s Sports Federation, which began with 18 member colleges and universities and grew to 34 institutions by 1974. She spent her career advocating for women’s equality in sports across the state and established the UT Martin women’s tennis program, which was the first women’s sport to achieve varsity status at UT Martin.
“I can think of no one more befitting of the honor of Tennessee Sports Hall of Famer than Bettye Giles. Her contributions to athletics across the state and throughout the nation over the last half-century cannot be overstated,” said Brad Willis, chief advancement and operations officer for the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. “Her story is one that the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame will be happy to share for years to come.”
Originally from Clarksville, Giles served as director of women’s athletics at UT Martin from 1969 until her retirement in 1994. She received the Pathfinder Award from the National Association of Girls and Women in Sports for her work. Her leadership and activism coincided with the Title IX education amendments of 1972, which require federally funded educational institutions to provide fair and equal treatment in all areas of educational programming, including sports.
Title IX was enacted by the U.S. Congress on June 23, 1972.
The full 2020 Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame induction class will be announced in the coming weeks.
(photo: Bettye Giles (second from left) with (from left) Art Sparks, chair of the UT Martin Advisory Board; Dr. Keith Carver, UT Martin chancellor; and Lin Dunn, a member of both the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and the UT Martin Athletics Hall of Fame.)