Doug Bruno and Title IX celebrate milestones in hoops heroics and athletics equity
By Bob Sakamoto
Before embarking on his 37th season this fall as DePaul women’s basketball coach, Doug Bruno (LAS ’73, MA ’88) enjoyed a glorious summer of accolades.
In a crowning moment, Bruno, who has dedicated most of his career to advancing women in sports and elevating women’s basketball, was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in June.
Bruno was celebrated for his remarkable coaching success as well as his ﬁerce advocacy of gender equity spanning ﬁve decades. He’s been a prominent supporter of Title IX, which marks its 50th anniversary in 2022 as the landmark civil rights law prohibiting sex-based discrimination in schools and programs that receive federal funding.
In July, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot bestowed the City of Chicago Title IX Champion Award on Bruno.
“The opportunity for a young girl to be educated through athletics is not based on some quota, but it is a civil right,” Bruno said at the Chicago Cultural Center ceremony. “Title IX is a federal civil rights law, not just some rule. Gender equality has made signiﬁcant strides since Title IX was enacted 50 years ago. Unfortunately, gender inequity remains all too prevalent in our country. The battle for gender equality — just like the battle for racial equality — is a ﬁght that must be waged every day.”
Bruno’s Hall of Fame induction was a professional pinnacle beﬁtting an individual who has spent much of his life ﬁghting for equal treatment of female athletes and women in society.
“Gender equality has made signiﬁcant strides since Title IX was enacted 50 years ago.”
The son of a Marine mother and an Army father, Bruno played on the Blue Demon men’s basketball team in the early 1970s for legendary coach Ray Meyer. After his start in coaching boys’ basketball, Bruno found his sweet spot in coaching women’s teams. In addition to his success at DePaul, he was part of the coaching staff that led Team USA to gold medals in the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics, and he coached the Chicago Hustle in the ﬁrst pro women’s basketball league.
“As a male, I am so thankful for the opportunity to coach women’s basketball,” Bruno says. “Otherwise, I never would have realized the gender inequity in athletics and the vast inequality of media coverage between men’s and women’s sports.”
Heading into the 2022–23 season, he had amassed a sensational career record of 758-367 at DePaul, surpassing Meyer as winningest coach in DePaul history. Bruno has led his teams to 25 NCAA tournament appearances, including four berths in the Sweet 16. His Blue Demons led the nation in scoring last season, playing at a breakneck speed that wins games and entertains fans.
Bruno’s ongoing quest is to grow the game of women’s basketball and to continue to ﬁght for gender equality. DePaul has been a game-changer in that regard.
When DePaul opened classes to women in 1911, it became the first coed Catholic institution in Chicago. “Since then, there have been many people behind the fight for gender equality and Title IX at DePaul,” Bruno says. “When so many other institutions paid lip service to this groundbreaking federal legislation, DePaul embraced Title IX from day one.”