How the NCAA ladies’s Ultimate 4 was born

A decade after Title IX, a battle for management of ladies’s basketball break up loyalties and produced two nationwide champions

Forward Ann Pendergrass helped Louisiana Tech defeat Cheyney State, 76-62, in the first NCAA women's championship in Norfolk in 1982. (Bryant/AP)

LEFT: Rutgers defeated Texas, 83-77, in the 1982 AIAW women’s basketball championship. Ann Pendergrass helped Louisiana Tech defeat Cheyney State, 76-62, in the inaugural NCAA women’s championship at Norfolk in 1982. (Bryant / AP)

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It took more than a stroke of the pen to grant female basketball players the opportunity to compete on an equal footing with men. Their battle continues at the present time, as evidenced by the video of the obvious disparities within the therapy of female and male athletes throughout the last year’s NCAA tournaments.

The NCAA did not hold its first women’s basketball championship until 1982, and only then, after trying for nearly a decade to scuttle Title IX, the federal legislation signed by President Richard M. Nixon in 1972 prohibiting discrimination based primarily on sexual intercourse in federally funded institutions. (The NCAA has hosted its men’s basketball game since 1939.)

After exhausting all the avenues allowed to invalidate Title IX, the NCAA modified the tack and introduced it in 1981, it could hold national championships for girls in a handful of Division I sports activities.

The transfer was a direct issue with the women-led affiliation for intercollegiate athletics for girls, which governed women’s school athletic activities at the time. And this has put pressure on the faculties to decide their side in a battle over the way forward for women’s sports activities.

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Until then, the traces of fault were philosophical. Colleges had to find the ideal path for women’s basketball: both a quasi-commercial dummy similar to the guys’ setup or something else entirely, rooted in the best of AIAW’s strict amateurism, with guidelines developed by and for girls.

(Who is probably getting the most out of NIL? Women’s basketball is close to the highest.)

The ultimate showdown was the 1982 women’s basketball playoffs, when the NCAA and AIAW held national championship video games on the same day, 300 miles apart.

As Louisville, South Carolina, Connecticut and Stanford head to Minneapolis for the 2022 Ultimate 4, it’s worth remembering those dueling video games and how the selections then set the stage for what exists right now in women’s basketball.

And we remember it the most, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of those 1982 women’s basketball championships, through the phrases of the coaches and players who described these largely forgotten moments.

Jody Conradt coached the 1982 AIAW runner-up Texas Longhorns. (Courtesy of UT Austin Athletics)
Louisiana Tech received the first NCAA women’s basketball game a year after the success of the AIAW championship. (Courtesy of Louisiana Tech)
C. Vivian Stringer coached Cheyney State at the NCAA game championship main recess. (Courtesy of Rutgers College)
Sonja Hogg coached Louisiana Tech during the first NCAA championship recess: “We had dominated the groups by 20, 30 factors, but Cheyney State had everyone, and we advised our group ‘Now look: If we go down, just settle down. They’re good. Stay calm. Keep the affected person.”Thank God we did it.”(Andy Jacobsohn For The Washington Set Up)

“I suppose that implies that you will need rings?’

The lure of NCAA television advertising and travel grants left only three ranked groups with the AIAW and won its 1982-16 match discipline. Because of this, NBC canceled plans to broadcast the championship game between Rutgers and fifth-ranked Texas on the Palestra in Philadelphia. A crowd of 1,789 attended, and Rutgers university radio station WRSU-FM provided the account of a stay.

Although Texas was favored, the Rutgers Knights Girls got the sting in size and expertise, led by senior player June Olkowski and twins Mary and Patty Coyle, who occupied the backyard. All three played in the Philadelphia Catholic Ladies League and had been childhood disciples of Rutgers coach Theresa Grentz when she led the Immaculata Mighty Macs to 3 AIAW championships from 1972 to 1974.

Theresa Grentz

Rutgers Coach (1976-1995)

An integral part of 4 AIAW women’s basketball championships, main Immaculata to 3 titles as a participant (1972-1974) and Rutgers to the 1982 title as a coach. Inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001.

“The Palestra is a very, very special place in Philadelphia because of the huge 5- St.Joe’s, Villanova, Temple, La Salle and Penn-which were played there, and the women’s Catholic League championship was played there. It was like a gladiator pit.”

Mary Coyle Klinger

Rutgers Level Guard (1978-1982)

Klinger and her similar twin, Patty, had been stars of the Philadelphia Catholic Women’s League earlier than their four-year careers at Rutgers.

“We grew up in Philadelphia, so the Palestra for us was like the way people in New York think of the backyard: it was the Mecca of basketball.”

Theresa Grentz

Rutgers Coach (1976-1995)

An integral part of 4 AIAW women’s basketball championships, main Immaculata to 3 titles as a participant (1972-1974) and Rutgers to the 1982 title as a coach. Inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001.

“I wasn’t much older at the time than (my gamers) had been. Many of them noticed me playing Immaculata once they got up. I recruited them from the Catholic League to come back to Rutgers. There have been quite a few connections in Philadelphia. It’s practically like we’re working up and down the turnpike (New Jersey).

“… We were on the set – about a day earlier than when Jody (Conradt) and his band arrived here, they usually had probably the most gorgeous burnt orange warm-ups. I thought: “My God! I got to get my kids out of here!’I didn’t need them to see the Texas players. They had been the complete package!”

Mary Coyle Klinger

Rutgers Level Guard (1978-1982)

Klinger and her similar twin, Patty, had been stars of the Philadelphia Catholic Women’s League earlier than their four-year careers at Rutgers.

“Texas comes for a walk in their nice warm-ups and matching shoes, they usually all seemed very intimidating. However (my twin) Patty and I were having a bit of a laugh about it because we had just put on our crimson pinnies, shirts and shorts. Once we played, I was just glad to have a pair of sneakers that didn’t have holes.”

Rutgers guard Jennie Corridor scored 16 points during the 1982 AIAW Championship recess. (Tom Costello / courtesy of Whoo-Rah Productions)
Rutgers was the last group to win the AIAW Division I national championship. (Tom Costello / courtesy of Whoo-Rah Productions)
After winning the title and speaking to reporters, Rutgers coach Theresa Grentz took her group out to dinner. (Tom Costello / courtesy of Whoo-Rah Productions)
Rutgers players celebrated their title on campus and managed to ring the bell at Queens, an honor that university agreements give to undefeated or champion groups. (Tom Costello / courtesy of Whoo-Rah Productions)

Jody Conradt

Texas Coach (1976-2007)

The second lady was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Led the Longhorns to the 1986 NCAA Championship, capping the NCAA ladies’ first undefeated season with a 34-nil record.

“I didn’t know much fantastic about Rutgers, but I learned about June Olkowski and the twins. That they had a popularity in the Philadelphia space for being extremely aggressive, extremely gifted, and there was no pushback in both of them. Believe me: I noticed a double discomfort in these twins throughout the recess.

“… We had to rely on speed and protection. We had to increase the role of the court — participate in all 94 toes in defensive tension -and note in transition. We had been good at it, but I don’t suppose our expertise matched that of Rutgers.”

Mary Coyle Klinger

Rutgers Level Guard (1978-1982)

Klinger and her similar twin, Patty, had been stars of the Philadelphia Catholic Women’s League earlier than their four-year careers at Rutgers.

“It was said that the Texan court background was going to dominate my twin and me. By rising within the metropolis and those we needed to compete day after day, I believed that they were not going to dominate us.

About this story

Photograph modifying by Toni Sandys. Copy modifying by Mark Selig. Design and growth by Chloe Meister. Extra growth by Jake Crump.

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