PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – 37 words forever changed the world of women’s college sports 50 years ago with the passing of the Title IX gender equity bill.

In 1972, then President Richard Nixon signed the Education Amendments Act, which included Title IX. The bill recognized gender equity in education as a civil right, and altered women’s sports forever.

Today, women make up around 44% of all college athletes as opposed to 15% prior to Title IX adoption.

In Panama City, some of the nation’s top women’s college athletes play at Gulf Coast State College every year.

Gulf Coast Head Softball Coach Scot Thomas, who’s been coaching the sport for three decades, said there is still work to be done in promoting women’s sports, but Title IX was huge in creating a positive future.

“One of the things we see is facility-wise, if you go over to our facility and you look at our facility versus our baseball team it’s very similar,” Thomas said. “And, you’re seeing that a lot with the facilities we have here at Gulf Coast and across the country. And in the case of softball, ESPN wants to see more college softball than they want to see college baseball, and that’s just a fact.”

In the past decade, college softball has grown faster in revenue and viewership than college football and baseball combined.