Joanne P. McCallie won 167 games – a program record – in eight years as the head coach of the University of Maine women’s basketball team from 1992-2000. She went on to successful stints at Michigan State and Duke, winning 71.7 percent of her games in a 28-year coaching career. But getting compensated fairly was not easy. “I always had to challenge the salaries we had, mine and my staff,” says McCallie, seen in her home office in Durham, North Carolina. Angelina Katsanis photo

During her 28 years as a college basketball head coach, Joanne P. McCallie often had to push her bosses to provide more for her women’s teams.

She would look at the men’s basketball programs where she worked and see the inequities: higher salaries for the coaches, a larger travel budget, newer uniforms, better training and support resources.

Sometimes, McCallie said, she had to “look at other jobs” to get the attention of her administration. It happened during her eight years at the University of Maine, and it happened during her 13 years at Duke University. Once she showed she was thinking of leaving, increases in salaries or resources usually followed.

“The action has to be very overt,” said McCallie, who won 71.7 percent of her games and was honored as National Coach of the Year in 2005 while at Michigan State. “(When) you’ve got to actually get on an airplane and go look at (another) school in order to get movement from your own school, something is wrong with that. And that shows it’s not the kind of progress we want.”

Fifty years after the enactment of Title IX, the groundbreaking federal law that prohibits discrimination or exclusion from participation based on sex at any college or university that receives federal money, many schools do not provide equitable resources for men’s and women’s sports.

Last spring, six female coaches at Colby College in Waterville filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission alleging the school provided more resources to its men’s teams and paid its men’s coaches more. A settlement was reached in that case in January, according to lawyers for both the coaches and the college.


But at Colby and many other schools in Maine and throughout the Northeast, more money is spent on men’s teams than women’s teams, particularly at NCAA Division I schools. Average salaries for head coaches and assistant coaches of men’s teams tend to be higher than for women’s teams. Money spent on recruiting also skews in favor of men’s teams.

The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram examined college athletic departments to see how they fared in terms of gender equity, conducting dozens of interviews with athletic administrators and studying data collected from the annual U.S. Department of Education’s Equity in Athletics Data Analysis (EADA). That data, collected from the most recent academic year available (2019-20), shows how financial resources are allocated at every school that participates in intercollegiate athletics – breaking down men’s and women’s sports according to staff sizes, coaches salaries, expenses, recruiting budgets and revenues and expenses.

The newspaper examined EADA data for every college and university in Maine, along with more than two dozen schools throughout the Northeast that compete in the same conferences as Maine schools. They include the America East Conference, an NCAA Division I conference composed mostly of public schools like UMaine, and the New England Small College Athletic Conference, a group of 11 private schools located in New England and New York that play at the Division III level.

The Press Herald’s investigation found:

The average salaries of head coaches of men’s teams in the 2019-20 school year were regularly much higher than average salaries of head coaches of women’s teams. Only two of the 11 Division I schools examined had women’s average salaries within $12,000 of men’s average salaries. Only one NESCAC school had a higher average salary for coaches of women’s teams.

Assistant coaches on men’s teams were paid much more, especially at the Division I level. Only two of those schools studied paid a higher average salary to women’s team assistants than men’s team assistants.


The majority of women’s teams have a man as a head coach. Of 153 women’s teams across 18 colleges in Maine, only 73 have a female head coach (47.7 percent). Nationally, only 42.7 percent of women’s teams have a woman as a head coach.

Men’s teams were provided much more money for operating expenses. No Division I school studied spent more money on women’s teams. Some Division III schools in Maine did much better, with the University of Southern Maine, UMaine-Farmington, UMaine-Fort Kent, UMaine-Presque Isle and Thomas College all spending more on women’s teams than men’s teams.

Recruiting budgets heavily favor men’s teams. Of the 11 NCAA Division I schools studied, only one (Maryland-Baltimore County) spent more on women’s recruiting than men’s. Of the 11 NESCAC teams studied, only three (Bowdoin, Connecticut College and Trinity) spent more on women’s recruiting than men’s. And of the 15 other NCAA Division III schools studied (including 10 in Maine), 12 spent more on men’s recruiting than women’s.

• Football, with its larger rosters and coaching staffs, skews the budget heavily in the favor of men’s sports. Of the five Division I schools studied that offered football, including UMaine, four spent more than 60 percent of their athletic budgets on men’s sports. In the NESCAC, Connecticut College was the only school to spend more on women’s sports than men’s sports (54 percent of its budget) – and it doesn’t offer football.

Athletic directors across the state say it’s difficult to compare collegiate men’s and women’s programs simply by expenses and salaries. There are often too many other factors involved, such as roster size, equipment, officials and a coach’s years of experience.

“It would be easy if you had an equal number of sports,” said Lynn Coutts, a former athlete, softball coach and athletic administrator at UMaine who is now the deputy athletic director for student-athlete excellence at the University of Denver. “But football has large numbers and (men’s) lacrosse has large numbers. So if you’re not complying (for gender equity) with participation, you’ve got to comply with other areas, such as treatment, equipment, travel, housing.”


Coutts said she just completed a six-month study of the gender equity policies at Denver and learned that it’s not as simple as comparing men’s teams to women’s teams.

“Equal and equitable are two different things,” she said. “The question is, ‘How do we get people to a place where we are somewhat equal?’

“We sometimes pit this as male versus female because society portrays it that way. But gender equity is the overall landscape of men and women. It’s not one sport versus one sport.”


Amy Vachon, head coach of the University of Maine women’s basketball team, huddles with her team during the America East championship game in Orono on March 11. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

If there’s a face to gender equity in Maine, it is likely Amy Vachon, the University of Maine women’s basketball coach.

Vachon grew up in Maine; won state championships at Cony High in Augusta while playing for her father, Paul Vachon; starred at UMaine, where she helped the Black Bears to their only NCAA tournament win; and is now a highly successful head coach at her alma mater.


Two years ago, noticing a lack of female head coaches at the high school level in Maine, she started holding virtual forums to encourage more women to coach. In September she held a Pass It Forward Women’s Coaches Clinic at the Augusta Civic Center, featuring McCallie as one of the guest speakers.

But it’s the work she is doing on the court at UMaine that has thrust Vachon into the spotlight.

In her first six seasons as the Black Bears head coach, she has led the team to a 113-54 record, earning America East Coach of the Year honors four times and leading the Black Bears to two NCAA tournament appearances. In addition, the Black Bears had the highest grade point average (3.90) of any NCAA women’s basketball team in the nation last year.

In March 2021, Maine signed Vachon to a four-year extension, increasing her salary from $130,000 to $150,000 for the 2021-22 season. Still, that was $15,000 less than men’s basketball coach Richard Barron was making this winter. Barron agreed to step down as the head coach in February after guiding the men’s team to a 21-75 record over four seasons. His head coaching record at UMaine was 106-164, including six seasons with the women’s team. Barron, overall, had 21 seasons of head-coaching experience at several colleges.

By the time Vachon’s contract ends, however, her salary will be $180,000. That will make her the third highest-paid coach at the university, behind newly hired football coach Jordan Stevens ($245,000) and first-year men’s ice hockey coach Ben Barr ($235,000). Newly hired men’s basketball coach Chris Markwood’s salary will be the same as Vachon’s. All three of those men are first-time head coaches.

There is no comprehensive database on coaches’ salaries nationwide, but USA Today recently conducted a survey on basketball coach salaries at public colleges in the five largest NCAA conferences. It found that the average pay this season for women’s head coaches at 44 schools with available data is $733,000; the average pay for men’s head coaches at 24 schools is $785,000.


For Vachon, the money wasn’t a big deal. “Honestly, I’m not a big money person,” she said. More important was a clause she had written into her contract stipulating pay raises for her assistant coaches. There was a significant gap between the men’s assistant coaches and women’s assistant coaches in previous years, as much as $23,000 between the top assistants on each team.

Vachon helped to alleviate that gap. The salary pool for women’s basketball assistant coaches rose to $150,000 this season and will increase to $185,000 by the final year of Vachon’s contract in 2024-25.

“That was more important to me than anything else in the contract, to be absolutely honest with you,” Vachon said. “I just felt there was no reason that our coaches should be paid less than the men’s coaches. I really felt strongly about that. Compared to what other women’s Division I coaches are making, well we’re not at that level. We understand that. And that’s not what we’re talking about.

“We’re talking about equality, and why should a men’s coach be paid more than a women’s coach? Why?”

Vachon’s approach was similar to that taken by McCallie, the former UMaine women’s basketball coach.

“I always had to challenge the salaries we had, mine and my staff,” McCallie said. “I also saw great progress at each school I was at, Maine, Michigan State, Duke, but I always had to document our success and go in for the ask.


“I found it a very proactive thing to do in order to get gender equity. I prefer not to legislate, but I understand why some people do. You always have to drive it home. … It was very rare that things changed appropriately without me kind of going after it.”

UMaine women’s basketball head coach Amy Vachon made it a point to ensure higher salaries for assistant coaches like Courtney England, right, when negotiating her new contract with the school last year. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

UMaine’s director of athletics, Ken Ralph, said it was important to the school that Vachon and her assistant coaches be rewarded.

“Let’s face facts. That program is winning championships and she is winning Coach of the Year awards,” he said. “We’ve established a unique niche with women’s basketball that we’re unwilling to relinquish. We’ve too frequently allowed talented young coaches to leave and we decided we were going to do everything we could to keep (Vachon) at Maine.

“Amy made it clear she wants to remain at Maine, but there is a fairness element to it as well. She would certainly be worth more on the open market. But she wanted to be here. And we wanted to keep her. So we increased her salary and we were very aggressive in increasing the salary pool of her assistants as well.”

The university also is addressing gender equity in regards to athletic facilities. Ralph has noted that the “women’s soccer team plays in the outfield of our baseball field” and that the softball field isn’t playable until mid-April while right next door is the fully synthetic baseball field that can have snow plowed off to allow for games in March.

This soon will change, helped largely by a $90 million gift from the Harold Alfond Foundation. That gift went toward a $110 million master plan that will completely renovate UMaine sports facilities. Among the upgrades are new facilities for women’s soccer, field hockey and softball.


Gender equity will be addressed in the $110 million project to upgrade facilities at the University of Maine. The women’s softball, field hockey and soccer teams will be playing on new turf fields. University of Maine rendering

On Jan. 15, the University of Maine System Board of Trustees authorized $14 million of that gift for construction of those fields. That will begin this spring.

“We’re putting in the effort to be better,” Ralph said of gender equity, noting that UMaine now is one of the few Division I schools in the nation to pay its women’s basketball coach at least the same as the men’s coach. “We are serious about wanting to be leaders in this area.”

UMaine still has work to do in that area, as Ralph knows. According to the 2019-20 EADA report, Maine spent 61 percent of its $15.5 million athletic budget in 2019-20 on men’s sports. Among northern New England states, New Hampshire spent 53 percent of its budget on men’s sports and Vermont 52 percent. New Hampshire also offers three more women’s sports teams than Maine does. And Vermont does not offer football.

Maine’s budget percentage is similar to that of UMass-Lowell (61 percent spent on men’s sports), Albany and Rhode Island (both 60 percent) and slightly better than Stony Brook (65 percent). Lowell is the only school that does not offer football.

“I really think our gender equity numbers are good,” Ralph said. “If you look at participation, if you look at scholarship equivalency, we’re in a good spot, especially if you look at the national landscape.”



The University of Maine is the state’s only NCAA Division I program. All other schools in Maine compete at NCAA Division III or lower levels of intercollegiate athletics. The budgets are smaller, the salaries smaller, the coaching staffs smaller.

In many cases, they have only part-time coaches who hold other positions at their schools. At the University of Maine at Farmington, for example, baseball coach Chris Bessey also works as the school’s assistant sports information director. Molly Wilkie, the school’s women’s soccer coach, also is the assistant athletic director for diversity and inclusion.

That’s the case for other Division III programs across the University of Maine System.

The University of Southern Maine is one of the schools where gender equity is shown in its athletic expenses. At USM total expenses for women’s sports were $1,018,400 in 2019-20 while those for men’s sports were $932,316. On average, head coaches for women’s teams were paid $34,814 compared with $32,729 for head coaches of men’s teams.

Al Bean, the athletic director at USM, said gender equity is a philosophical commitment throughout the school.

“I think we’re pretty good,” Bean said. “Maybe somebody could point to something they’re not happy with but we feel we are well-intentioned and we do our best to provide as equal a playing field as we can.”


In terms of salaries, a coach’s experience is a factor as well, especially at the Division III level.

At USM, for example, baseball coach Ed Flaherty’s salary last year was $101,987.86, making him the fifth-highest paid coach in the entire University of Maine System. Softball coach Sarah Jamo made only $49,704.85.

But Flaherty has been at USM for over 30 years, Jamo less than 10. And Flaherty has won two national championships.

Flaherty is also a lecturer and provides game management for home basketball games, that money going toward his salary. Field hockey coach Bonny Brown-Denico, who is the second-highest paid coach at USM at $85,878.66, is in charge of facilities and game scheduling for all sports.

Elsewhere in the UMaine System, the total salaries of coaches of women’s teams and the total expenses of women’s teams is greater than those of men’s teams at UMaine-Farmington, UMaine-Fort Kent, UMaine-Augusta and UMaine-Presque Isle. Like USM, none of these schools offers football.

At UMaine-Farmington, the biggest factors in determining a coach’s salary are education, experience and versatility, said Julie Davis, who retired last summer after 21 years as the school’s athletic director. A candidate with a master’s degree can expect a higher salary than one with a bachelor’s, she said.


“Experience is nuanced. It isn’t as simple as a number of years but the level and scope of that experience are key factors. High school versus college? How much hands-on responsibility have they had with all of the responsibilities, recruiting being a key differentiator,” Davis said. “The combination of education and experience are key factors in what can be offered within a salary band.”

Salaries for coaches and other employees in the UMaine System are public record. Each of the private colleges in Maine declined to offer any salary information for this story. The federal Equity in Athletics Data Analysis provides the only figures for how the private schools allocate their resources for men’s and women’s sports teams.

Bowdoin College, a member of the NESCAC, spent more money in 2019-20 on its men’s teams ($2,848,177) than women’s teams ($2,376,578). Spending on men’s sports accounted for 54.5 percent of all expenses for athletics. On average, head coaches of Bowdoin’s women’s teams made slightly less ($52,370) than head coaches of its men’s teams ($55,858). Expenses for recruiting slightly favored women’s teams ($26,970) over men’s ($26,619).

“It’s more of an art than a science,” Athletic Director Tim Ryan said of spending on men’s and women’s sports. “It would be overly simplistic to say men’s soccer is going to have the same number of players and expenses as women’s soccer. They’re similar but they’re not going to be exact. It’s the same across all our programs.”

NCAA Division III schools in Maine that offer football – such as the University of New England – spent a higher percentage of their overall athletic budgets on men’s sports than women’s sports. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Bates and Colby colleges, the two other NESCAC schools in Maine, allocated a similar portion of their overall spending on athletics as did Bowdoin. Bates spent 55.6 percent of its $4.5 million athletic budget toward men’s sports; Colby allocated 54.7 percent of its $6.4 million budget toward men’s sports.

Some other NESCAC members spent a much higher percentage of their overall athletic budgets on men’s sports, including Tufts University (61.6 percent) and Trinity College (60 percent).


At Bates, head coaches of men’s teams earned $59,747 on average, while head coaches of women’s teams averaged $51,205.

“Bates coaches fall into a number of different categories, including some longtime coaches with ongoing contracts which have been established and are reviewed in a system governed by the faculty,” Bates Athletic Director Jason Fein said in a statement provided by the college’s communications office.

“It is worth noting that men’s teams are not exclusively coached by men and women’s teams are not exclusively coached by women, which creates a more complex picture than simply comparing salaries for women’s teams to men’s teams.”

At Colby, where the issue of gender equity was highlighted by the complaint filed by six female coaches with the Maine Human Rights Commission, head coaches of men’s teams were paid $64,808 on average, compared with $61,047 for head coaches of women’s teams. Among assistant coaches, average salaries were higher for men’s teams ($26,499) than women’s ($19,954). Colby also spent more money on recruiting expenses for men’s sports ($80,596) than for women’s sports ($73,377).

For two other Division III schools in Maine that offer football, more money was spent on men’s sports than women’s. The University of New England allocated 56.8 percent of its overall athletic spending toward men’s sports; Husson University, 58.9 percent. Thomas College, which does not offer football, spent just 43.2 percent of its $537,088 athletic budget on men’s sports, although head coaches of men’s teams had higher salaries on average ($19,810) than head coaches of women’s teams ($12,503).



At its most basic principle, Title IX, which became law on June 23, 1972, is about providing equal opportunities regardless of gender. It provides a three-pronged approach for schools to follow to achieve compliance. Participation numbers, or proportionality, is one way. If the percentages of male and female athletes are substantially proportional to male and female athletes enrolled at a school, that school is in compliance of Title IX.

Other prongs include if a school shows a history or practice of expanding athletic opportunities for the underrepresented gender or if a school’s programs meet the interest and abilities of the underrepresented gender.

“You really think of Title IX as an umbrella,” said Coutts, the athletic administrator at the University of Denver. “It covers so many things. And there is a gender equity piece.”

Sometimes, though, the cracks show. The 2021 NCAA women’s basketball tournament opened with the women’s teams having inferior workout facilities to the men’s teams. When this became public – a social media post from Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu, the national player of the year, showing a single rack of dumbbells and a stack of yoga mats – the NCAA responded by providing better equipment.

“Oh my gosh, sometimes you think, ‘Are we taking a step back?’ ” McCallie said. “I can’t get over the fact of not only what it looked like, but that it had a pink hue to it. Therein lies ignorance at the highest level. When you see that, you do have to question things.”

The NCAA also commissioned an independent study of gender-equity issues for the men’s and women’s tournaments following that incident. That study showed that the NCAA provided much less to the women’s teams in terms of services and marketing.


Most of those interviewed for this story say gender equity has improved greatly over the years, but more change is needed.

“A lot of things have changed, some haven’t, some still need to,” Vachon said.

Especially in the coaching and administrative fields.

Nicole LaVoi, executive director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota, said there must be cultural change in college sports for gender equity to firmly take root.

“We need systemic changes in terms of the culture of sports, the value and support of female athletes and coaches, and we need athletic directors that create a culture that supports females and female sports,” she said. “There’s a lot of moving parts in the system.”

LaVoi called it a “half-full, half-empty” situation. Her research breaks down how many women are coaching women’s sports at the nation’s colleges. While more women are coaching women’s teams than ever before, the growth is coming at a glacial pace.


According to her data, there were 357 female head coaches of women’s college teams in the 2020-21 season, or 42.7 percent overall. That’s up slightly from three years earlier, when there were 349 female head coaches (41.7 percent).

“One percent,” she said. “At that rate, to get to 50 percent I’ll be dead.”

LaVoi said the solution is that colleges not only have to recruit women to coach women but also give them the resources to succeed and continue coaching.

“There have to be multiple strategies,” she said. “Sports leaders that run athletic departments have to create a culture that values and supports women. Period. And that includes family-friendly policies, paying women equitably, providing resources that promotes personal and professional growth and team success, mentoring them, being gender allies for them.”

And, Vachon stressed, just because females are seeking equitable pay and resources, that doesn’t mean they are trying to undermine their male counterparts.

“I say this a lot with the women’s coaching stuff we’re doing: It’s not anti-male,” she said. “We can do both. We can celebrate females and pay them what they’re supposed to be paid and give them resources that don’t take anything away from the men.”


LaVoi said the younger generation will help develop the future of gender equity.

“The women athletes of this generation have grown up expecting to be treated equally to their male counterparts,” she said.

“They’re not going to be happy with just being able to play. And good for them. They’re the ones pushing the social change for us.”

And, Vachon said, women have to remain vigilant.

“I’m happy with what we’ve done with our staff here,” she said. “But we need to keep pushing. We have to keep forcing the issue because, if we don’t, it will stop.”

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