UW’s Jennifer Cohen and Seattle U’s Shaney Fink struck different paths to athletic director

With Jennifer Cohen at UW and Shaney Fink at SU, Seattle is the only one of the 32 metro markets nationwide with multiple Division I colleges to have women running its athletic departments.

Growing up in Southern California, and playing baseball with the boys on a team coached by her father, one of Shaney Fink’s earliest childhood ambitions was to one day be the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

A thousand miles north, just outside the city where she would eventually make her name, young Huskies fan Jennifer Cohen once wrote legendary UW coach Don James a letter telling him she would someday succeed him as head football coach.

Both women ultimately made their marks in an industry where women are still under-represented: college sports administration.

Cohen was named UW’s athletic director in May 2016 and at the time, she was one of only three female athletic directors at the Power Five level.

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Then, last September, Seattle University announced Fink as its new athletic director, making Seattle the only one of the 32 metro markets nationwide with multiple Division I colleges to have all women running its athletic departments.

Cohen and Fink are two of 38 female athletic directors among all 352 member institutions at the NCAA Division I level – about 10.5 percent. In contrast, women made up 46.7 percent of NCAA Division I student-athletes in 2016-17.

Friday marks the 45th anniversary of Title IX being signed into law by President Nixon. The groundbreaking anti-discrimination was passed in 1972 to ensure protection against gender discrimination in education but has also revolutionized the demographics of sports in the U.S.

It has yet to truly transform the top ranks of athletic administration, but there are signs the tide is turning. The number of female Division I athletic directors today has doubled since the 19 who held those jobs in the 1995-96 academic…

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