Even after women’s sports were boosted to varsity status, Don Canham and the Board in Control adamantly opposed awarding women the same varsity letter – the traditional maize block M – as they gave the men.
“Everyone was saying, ‘We’ll give you a navy M, we’ll give you a script M,’ anything but what was equal,” said Sheryl Szady, who wrote her doctoral dissertation on women’s sports at Michigan.
Szady and fellow athlete Linda Laird continued to push, but to no avail. The already copious opposition increased 10-fold when then-coaches Johnny Orr and Bo Schembechler wrote a letter to former athletes alerting them of the potential “degradation” to their letters.
Finally, just days before the Board in Control was to vote on the issue, Detroit sportscaster Al Ackerman got wind of the possible snub. He voiced his feelings about the matter on the air.
“He said, ‘If Michigan won’t give women the same letters, I’ll never announce another U-M score,'” Szady said.
This, coupled with the fact that the exact criteria for Title IX