An Evolution: Texas Women's Basketball

Over the last four decades The University of Texas at Austin Women's Basketball program has taken on the reputation as a national powerhouse in the sport. As Pat Summitt, Hall of Fame Tennessee Volunteers coach, said of UT's program upon Jody Conradt's retirement, "When we built our own program at Tennessee in the 1980s, we used Texas as our model.” The program stands as the sixth most winningest in NCAA Division I history with 867 wins through 2011 and has enjoyed 22 total conference championships and 25 NCAA Tournament appearances. An Evolution presents a historical view of the transformation of The University of Texas Women's Basketball program from its formation at the turn of the 20th century until the retirement of legendary head coach Jody Conradt in 2007. This online exhibit tracks notable moments that laid the groundwork for UT Women's Basketball today and documents the success of the program through the use of digital representations of original photographs and other archival materials.

This timeline of The University of Texas at Austin Women's Basketball program was created by Miriam Richards as part of her Spring 2012 Capstone project requirement. She did all of the original research, selecting of materials for exhibition, and web content writing. She would like to thank the Stark Center, especially Cindy Slater and Jan Todd, for sponsoring this project and for all of their support. She would also like to thank the following individuals for all of their guidance and help provided during the course of the project: Karen Pavelka, Capstone Advisor; Susan Sigmon, Communications Department, UT Athletics; Margaret Tiedeken, Sr. Administrative Associate, UT Athletics; Sonja Reid, Registrar, Harry Ransom Center; Jody Conradt, Former UT Women's Basketball Coach; Aryn Glazier, Photo Services, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

1900-01-13 02:47:42

Ideson vs. Whitis

James Naismith had invented basketball in 1891, but it took almost ten years for the game to make its way to the South. On Saturday, January 13, 1900, it is said that Eleanore Norvell initiated the first women's basketball game at UT. The Ideson and Whitis coed teams played four rudimentary 10-minute quarters in the basement of the old Main Building. Whitis won by a final score of 3-2. This first game set into motion the emergence of basketball as a popular sport at UT, especially among women.

1902-01-01 12:30:59

All-Star Team of 1902

At the end of the 1902 season, the university's first "all-star" team was chosen. The team received recognition from UT publications such as the Texan, Cactus, and University Record as the varsity squad. Eleanore Norvell served as the coach and had eight players against the "Town Girls." The UT all-star team won 7-4, with observers paying a 10-cent admission fee. However, men were not allowed to watch so some peered through the windows of the gym and cheered.

1911-01-01 12:30:59

Intramural, Interclass

Under the guidance of the Director of Women's Physical Education, Eunice Aden, recreational activities expanded. Resulting from this expansion was the formation of basketball teams for each class (freshman, sophomore, etc.). While basketball was the only sport with an intercollegiate component, it was largely an intramural and interclass event. "T" pins, letter sweaters and a "Texas blanket" were awarded to those students who achieved the highest levels of participation based on a point system and were considered a significant achievement for female athletes on campus.

1920-01-01 15:41:29

Keeping Basketball in Check

With enthusiasm for playing basketball growing, Director Aden and Dean of Women Helen Marr Kirby kept a close eye on developments in the sport at UT. As compared to the early years of basketball's establishment at the school, the teams were not allowed to play off campus. For a period of time, contests were cancelled due to several unidentified "unfortunate incidents" in the interclass games. However, interest remained as keen as ever and basketball games would eventually resume.

1921-01-01 15:41:29

Anna Hiss Hired

In 1921, Anna Hiss replaced Eunice Aden as the Director of Physical Training for Women. Steeped in the nationwide philosophies of womanhood and femininity related to physical activity, basketball was seen as unfeminine and dangerous. Hiss strove to develop and maintain a program that kept basketball simply a sport of enjoyment. This notion stemmed from the belief in moderate physical activity, a de-emphasis of competition among women, and the encouragement of inclusive participation over individual achievement. Most important was the establishment of a female-run space for women's college athletics to protect athletes from the commercialization and professionalization that was common in the "male model" of sports.

1924-01-01 15:41:29

N Hall

Women's athletics classes were originally held in the Main Building, room permitting. They would then take over the basement of the Women's Building in 1903. In 1914, N Hall, commonly referred to as "the Shack," was acquired for women's athletics. Here, UT women's basketball players practiced and played for over 15 years. Staying true to the ideals of the time, N Hall had little standing room for spectators, particularly men.

1931-01-01 15:41:29

Women's Gymnasium Built

Considered one of Anna Hiss's lasting achievements and a model facility during its day, the Women's Gymnasium was built in 1931 (The gymnasium was eventually renamed in her honor two years after her death in 1974). Hiss served as a crucial component in planning its construction having traveled, of her own expense, around the country to examine existing gymnasiums. Completed for $400,000, the facility included squash, handball, and basketball courts, dance studios, an archery range, a large swimming pool, and faculty offices. The basketball courts, however, were all undersized, designed to discourage spectators from watching. The baskets were also placed directly against the wall to keep athletes from playing out of control.

1933-01-01 00:10:52

UTSA

In 1933, Intramural Sports for Women and the University of Texas Sports Association were formed with UTSA serving as the head of women's sports clubs on campus. The organization was student elected and governed and oversaw program operations. Member dues and other projects funded UTSA and belonging to a club was considered a sign of prestige on campus. Occasionally, teams would travel to other schools, but mostly competed on campus. UTSA was also rooted in Hiss's ideologies, only meeting weekly in belief that women should not be active more than once a week. Additionally, students were allowed to belong to only one club. At this point in time, interclass games were less common and women's basketball functioned largely under Intramurals and consisted of sororities, dormitories, and other groups playing against each other in orange and white bracket tournaments.

1940-01-01 02:47:42

Small Changes

For many years there was always a small group of individuals dissatisfied with the state of basketball at UT, urging for more intercollegiate competition and physicality. During the early 1940s, small changes were being made to the game elsewhere to make the sport less constricted, more like the men's game. Hiss was well aware of such changes and for many years stood strong against varsity teams and outside competition. Following World War II, Hiss did permit corecreational sports and incorporated "play days" where women and teams from different schools would gather for a weekend of competition and socializing.

1957-01-01 05:37:26

Anna Hiss Retires

Over time, as public sentiment changed, so did Hiss’s policies. She became more sympathetic of competition and open to the desires of the student-run organizations and by the 1950s basketball thrived within the intramural structure. Intramural champions were allowed to play teams from other schools and an all-star team competed against champions of a church league, something unimaginable in the early years of Hiss's tenure. While Hiss's traditionalist ideas largely prevailed throughout her career at UT, she was extremely successful in serving to expand women's athletics on campus.

1967-01-01 05:37:26

Basketball added as Nonvarsity Sport

In the early 1960s, the University of Texas Sports Association and its clubs lost members from lack of interest in maintaining the student governance structure and an increased desire for more competitive opportunities. In 1966, after a petition from two sets of students to set up intercollegiate volleyball and basketball teams, the UTSA was declared defunct. In 1966-67, Texas started its first season of intercollegiate competition under the Division of Recreational Sports, in both volleyball and basketball. The total budget for the first year was $700, too small to cover all of their costs and coaches volunteered on a non-pay basis. The teams shared a set of handmade uniforms, paid their own transportation expenses, played on the undersize courts at the Women's Gym and used secondhand equipment from the physical education department.

1972-01-01 05:37:26

Title IX and Student-Athletes

As indicated, female student-athletes had been petitioning for more formal competition outlets. These athletes also wanted the same status as that of male athletes on campus, insisting on expert coaches, more frequent practices and specialized training. During this transitional era, the voices of student-athletes reigned supreme and combined with the efforts of administrator's to properly implement Title IX, served as the driving force behind establishing competitive intercollegiate athletics for women at UT. Needless to say, attitudes toward women's athletics, and basketball, had drastically changed over the last twenty years. Basketball had shifted from a segregated, private space into a very public and politically charged arena.

1974-01-01 05:37:26

A Year of Firsts

Despite a losing record, 1974 was a year of firsts for UT Women's basketball. The team played for the first time in Gregory Gym, long the site of men's basketball games. The Longhorn Band and cheerleaders also performed for the first time at a women's game, trainers worked for the first time with the team, and the women's roster was published in the men's program. Lastly, and arguably the most important, the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women was established operating on a first year budget of $72,760.

1976-01-01 05:37:26

Jody Conradt Hired

With the new women's department in place, Director Donna Lopiano decided to base the department's success around the women's basketball team, given the strong following women's basketball held in the state of Texas. Lopiano asked of her colleagues around the state who they thought was the best basketball coach in Texas, and most responded with Jody Conradt. Conradt would be hired to coach basketball and volleyball and received a salary, unheard of for a woman's coach who wasn't teaching, of $19,000 a year.

1977-11-29 00:57:43

First Event at the SEC

In their 11th intercollegiate season, the Longhorns season opener against Temple Junior College had the honor of being the first event to take place in the newly constructed Special Events Center (now the Frank Erwin Center). The Longhorns defeated Temple, 67-64. Temple guard Evwella Munn, who later transferred to UT, scored the building's very first basket. After the game, senior Retha Swindell said, "We were talking before the game about how we wanted to be the first team to score there. We didn't want Temple to score first. So what happens? They go out and score first."

1979-01-01 00:57:43

Women's Basketball Media Guide

During the 1979 season, after being featured in years past in the men's basketball programs, the women's basketball team issued it's first media guide.

1985-03-01 04:02:11

NCAA Final Four in Austin

The Longhorns ended the 1984-85 regular season campaign ranked number one in the nation and were to host the Final Four in Austin. Their chase for the championship was cut short, however, when the Longhorns lost a final-second heartbreaker to Western Kentucky in the regional semifinals. This rare commercial advertises the Final Four and shows footage of the basketball team.

1985-12-10 05:37:26

Annette Smith, UT's All-Time Leading Scorer

After spending 19 months recovering from a severe knee injury that threatened to end her basketball career, Annette Smith came back strong in the 1985-86 season and scored 22 points against USC to become the all-time leading scorer in UT basketball history. Not only did Smith break the record, but she held the nation's best player, Cheryl Miller, to 2-of-10 shooting and did all this in front of 11,470 fans, the largest crowd in UT women's basketball history. The game was paused, allowing the coaches and players to congratulate her briefly. Smith would end her career with 2,523 total points in addition to All-American and Southwest Conference Player of the Year (2) honors. She also received inductions in the Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame and the UT Women's Wall of Honor.

1986-01-20 00:57:43

UT VS. Old Dominion on ESPN

UT Women's Basketball made their first televised appearance on ESPN against Old Dominion, the defending national champions. Following their victory over Old Dominion, it became readily apparent just how talented the 1986 squad was. After the game Old Dominion Coach Marianne Stanley said, “I think Texas is a team of destiny, they want it and don’t want anybody to come in here and take it away from them.”

1986-03-01 04:02:11

National Champions

After No. 1 rankings and high expectations in their previous two seasons, the Longhorns finally capitalized against USC in the 1986 National Championship Game, making history in the process as the first team to go undefeated at 34-0.

1990-02-23 05:37:26

183-game Southwest Conference Winning Streak Snapped

Before and after the Longhorns national championship, women's basketball at UT dominated the Southwestern Conference. After falling to Texas A&M, 59-53, on Jan. 23, 1978, the Longhorns went undefeated in conference play for more than 12 years. On February 23, 1990, Arkansas snapped UT's streak at 183 games. Since the NCAA started keeping stats, the Longhorns hold the record to this day for most consecutive conference wins (including postseason).

1998-01-01 05:37:26

Conradt into Basketball Halls of Fame

Almost ten years before she would retire, Jody Conradt was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (October 1998) with the likes of other basketball greats such as Larry Bird. Not even a year later, in June 1999, Conradt was a member of the inaugural class of inductees into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. By the end of her career, Conradt had received six national coach of the year awards, in addition to leading the Longhorns to three Final Fours, five Elite Eights, and 11 Sweet 16 appearances.

2007-03-12 05:37:26

Retirement of a Legend

Having mulled retirement for some time, Jody Conradt finally decided it was time to step down. She did so in 2007 after a 31-year coaching career and 9 year stint as Director of Women's Athletics at UT. Conradt ended with a 900-306 record overall (783-245 at Texas), which sits second all-time, trailing only Pat Summit, on the Division I victory list.

An Evolution: Texas Women's Basketball

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