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Women's Sports History 1950-1977



Top of the Charts 1949



The high school physical education association decided to  get involved with women's basketball by supervising the competitive activity.  Rules were established for women's basketball and a playoff system organized and sponsored for Class A and Class B high school. 



1950's Tennis Style

1950's Tennis Style


Hiss description of women's sports as a "Play Day" is challenged.   Paraphrasing Tessa Nichols the issue of whether to sanction intercollegiate activities peaks in the 1950's . "Ideologies of women's sports and physical activity were changing". Female student athletes not the coaches led this campaign for more competitive opportunities.  Women start to rebel  against the stereotypical broiler plate description of a woman's role in society as "domestic". 

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Women are excelling at school and at work and the public's fear of powerful woman starts to wane.  A significant catalyst for the change in the perception of women's sports in the USA is triggered by the Russian's successful women's Olympic program. The USA is embarrassed by the performance of USA women athletes against Russian women, and the USA responds by opening a number "of fronts to broaden female participation in international competition". 

By 1954 21,000 girls were participating in League basketball and 8,700 in tennis. (data from the "History of Physical Education in Texas: an analysis of the Role of D.K. Brace." Ph.D. dissertation , USC 1967)


The Balloon fundraiser

After Intercollegiate women sports are  sanctioned funds to compete are "minimal to non-existent." Capitalism solves that problem.   A fundraising event is formed to sell balloons for 25 cents each at the UT home football games. The balloons purchased are then released after Texas made their first touchdown. Some balloons never have the opportunity to be released in the 50's. Regardless, the balloon fundraiser is a success and allows for a  "limited travel budget" for Longhorn women. 



1957 another key year in the history of women's sports 

Professor Hiss resigns her  Directorship at Texas. 

Under the leadership of Anna Hiss Intramural sports thrive with "23 tournaments in 18 activities."  

Collegiate women seeking greater athletic opportunities moved closer to their goals in 1957, when the long-entrenched official position statement of the Division for Girls and Women in Sport (DGWS) was amended to state that intercollegiate programs “may” exist. In 1963, the DGWS view of women in sport evolved further to state that it was “desirable” that intercollegiate programs for women exist (Gerber, et al., 1974).



Top of the Charts 1957



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1957 Basketball



Reflection- Women Longhorn Sports 1921-1957

Tessa Nichols states in her thesis that Anna Hiss had a "remarkable level of success during her tenure at the University of Texas." She defends Anna Hiss  from the "many scholars (who) are quick to criticize 20th century physical educators for their traditionalist and overly protective beliefs, without giving adequate acknowledgement to the roots of their beliefs or to the accomplishments of their programs" that ultimately paved the way for Betty Thompson and Donna Lopiano's success's. 

During Anna's early years as "Director" she was influenced by  prominent women such as  First Lady Lou Henry Hoover who believes  that women's sports should focus on  "artistry.... over Athleticism". The dogma of this era stated that competitive team sports were detrimental to a  woman's health. For this reason,  many women and men opposed women participating in intercollegiate athletics.    

Miriam Richards research at the Stark Center states that  Anna was "steep in the nationwide philosophies of womanhood and femininity related to physical activity". Hiss thought that competitive basketball fell outside of the parameters of a sanctioned sport for women. She felt that basketball was unfeminine and dangerous and therefore the Hiss doctrine strove to develop and maintain  basketball as simply a sport of enjoyment. 

Sports that reflected her doctrine included tennis, golf, archery, swimming and interpretive dance. For almost a century  society  believed that a woman's body should be protected from the stress of too much competition, and that women's sports should reflect "modesty and dignity". 

Her credo for women sports included : 

  • moderate physical activity;

  • a de-emphasis on competition among women;

  • a focus on inclusive participation over individual achievement; and

  • female-run space to protect athletes from the commercialization and professionalization that was common in the "male model" of sports."

In many ways  Hiss was a leader in the development of women's sports at UT, but in many other ways she was a follower. In reality the true trend setters for  the women's movement in sports are colleges and high school coaches who challenged the assumption that women should not compete in "stressful" team sports.  Only after the Texas UIL's  decision to reinstate competitive women team sports, the success of  colleges that promoted competitive team sports for women, and the AMA's endorsement of women competing in "aggressive" team sports did the University of Texas  finally concede that "stressful" competitive team sports are not detrimental to the "weaker" sex.  

By 1967 the myths about women and sports were dispelled and UT Austin Women's sports program begins to flourish. 

1957- 1966  

Jo Chapman takes over as interim Director of Intramurals  followed by Shiela O'Gara and Carolyn Hewatt.  More content on these individuals is pending. 

1963- An Important year in Longhorn women's sports

The Division of Girls and Women's Sports officials changes the "statement of competition" to encourage intercollegiate sports competition. The new direction by the DGWS supports a organizational setup that is equal to but separate  from the men's intercollegiate athletic department.  

By 1967 the women’s movement in sport was rapidly moving toward a status more in line with men’s athletics. In 1969, a schedule of national championships for women’s sports was announced that included gymnastics and track and field. Swimming, badminton, and volleyball followed in 1970 and in 1972, basketball was added. Women wanted an institutional membership organization similar to the NCAA. The CIAW was replaced by the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) in 1971. This set the stage for the struggle to control women’s athletics in the 1970s between the AIAW and the NCAA (Gerber, et al., 1974).



1961 at the top of the charts






In the early 1960s, the membership in the "club" format declines. The "Clubs" wanted more competitive opportunities so in 1966, after a petition from two sets of students to set up intercollegiate volleyball and basketball teams, the UTSA club format is declared defunct and intercollegiate competition begins.  However,The UTSA did not die abruptly. As late as 1972 the UTSA was still competing on a state level . 











In 1966 Coach June Walker has tryouts for the basketball team. The games are played in Women's Gym. There are three basketball coaches between 1966 and 1975- Dalton, Hansen, and Page.

In 1966 the women Longhorns also started intercollegiate competition under the Division of Recreational Sports in volleyball.

The total budget for the two sports for the first year was a laughable $700.  It was not enough to cover all of the costs so faculty members volunteered as coaches  on a non-pay basis and the team members shared a set of handmade uniforms, paid for their own transportation expenses, played on the undersized courts at the Women's Gym, and used second hand equipment from the physical education department. Regardless of the obstacles  1966 and 1967 represent  a defining points in the History of  the U.T. women's sports.  

 1968-1982 - The National organization AIAW takes the lead in women's sports

The AIAW's first mistake is prohibiting athletic scholarships for women. The AIAW leaders felt scholarships would result in athlete-students instead of student-athletes.  The physical educators agreed with the AIAW's "no scholarship" rule because they knew offering  scholarships would require recruiting and recruiting resulted in less time teaching for the coaches.   The AIWA focused on the female student athletes education, not on athletic performance, and thus rejected the ‘win or die’ attitude of the NCAA. Instead, the AIAW emphasized participation in sport as the most important aspect and de-emphasized winning (Sperber, 1990).

In 1969 the AIAW (Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women) is  formed. A schedule of national championships for women’s sports was announced that included gymnastics and track and field. Swimming, badminton, and volleyball followed in 1970 and in 1972, basketball was added. 

The AIAW during the 1971-1972 academic season boasted of 278 charter institutions and 800 by 1981. The organization had lofty goals but that were not grounded in reality.


Page Elizabeth Bauerkemper  in  her 2013  report titled Beyond Sports: A Guidebook for Potential Collegiate Female Student -Athletes  states that In 1972 there were only 32,000 women on college teams receiving 2% of the athletic budget.  Title IX was about to change that percentage. 

The  1970's 

The mid 70's also represents some very  important defining moments for U.T. women sports.  With the implementation of  Title IX and the addition of  Donna Lopianos strong leadership skills,  the U.T. women's athletic department finally had a clear vision for success.  Unfortunately, there were budgetary restraints, lawsuits, UT bureaucracy, U.T. fiefdoms,  and  the stereotype definition of  a "women's place" that  Donna Lopiano had to overcome  before she could implement her clear vision. 




The Longhorns did not lead the way for women's sports but there was still progress made from 1971 thru 1976.  The UTSCA (University of Texas Sports Club Association) . This league allowed women the opportunity to compete with other "minor" sports teams.  Clubs included badminton, basketball, golf, gymnastics, soccer, swimming, tennis, and volleyball. 


Gymnastics was the most successful team in 1976 winning second in state. Kathy Moore was the standout performer. The funds came from the Intercollegiate Athletics for Men said UTSA spokeswomen  June Burke.  The funding was small which sometimes caused  problems.  The comment in the 1974 "Cactus" makes the point very clearly.


In 1973 the Athletic Director said "Where are we going to get all the money we need " for all the new sports?  The Cactus says all the women's sports teams only received $2400 a year so the 100 - plus women athletes paid for their own equipment, training, travel, and the coaches were unpaid for their service. There was a study approved to consider expanding programs under the intercollegiate athletics for women but the Athletics Council refused to act on the suggestions. Under pressure to eliminate sex discrimination in 1974 the Athletic Council created the Intercollegiate athletics  for women's department with a budget of $50,000. Sports under the AIAW were basketball, , swimming, tennis, golf and volleyball.  As a result of the meager funds women athletes had to pay for their own equipment, training, travel, and all other expenses. The women coaches were unpaid.

1973- 1974

1973 - Herb Holland from the Daily Texan reports states that at the SWC winter meeting , the group voted to recognize women’s participation in varsity athletics.

March 1974 the council announces a proposal including a separate council for women, a budget of $50,000, use of Gregory Gym offices, and a separate student blanket tax to provide funding for the women’s program. Many thought that the councils decision was a cop-out. Led by Betty Thompson many wanted to merge the funding of the men’s and women’s program.

The Cactus states that In 1974 Coach Page basketball team moves to Gregory Gym and playes Southwest Texas State University.

The 1974 UTSA women’s Tennis team was good but they were forced to practice and play at the inadequate intramural facilities. Women can only use the men’s Tennis courts when the men are not practicing or playing a match. Betty Hagerman is the Tennis Coach and says Everyone is confident we will keep moving forward in women’s tennis.

Golf Coach Pat Weis was building a powerhouse for the Longhorns with Nancy Hager, Jan Rapp, Debbie Norton and Carla Spenkock .

1975 - 1976

1975 tennis (6).jpg

 1975- Even though  there were cutbacks in expenses in 1975 for the college of Humanities and Longhorn sports attendance was trending down, 37 million dollars was allocated to build a new basketball arena, a new swimming complex, and a new baseball stadium.   This allocation of so much money to sports upset many any Academia.    There was even controversy within the Athletic department when the number of scholarships in some sports were reduced and some coaches lost their jobs requiring the remaining coaches to double on coaching responsibilities.

 1976-1977 Jody Conradt became the first full-time women's coach in basketball and volleyball. Mack Brice was the first Sports Information Directors  for the UT women. Texas budget $9000 to sponsor the AIAW National championships in volleyball at Gregory Gym. 

1976- The UTSCA ( University of Texas Women’s Sports Clubs were thriving ) - Judo, Aerial Tennis, Aikido, Lacrosse had a lot of interest but women’s soccer led the way with 50 members. Under Betty Thompson’s direction the UTSCA and the intramurals were combined under the Division of Recreational Sports. Soccer continued to press for NCAA recognition.

Betty Thompson plays fortune teller and is right when she says that “In philosophy, I believe we have moved from an intramural stance to a recreational sports stance.”




1971 – The Amateur Athletic Union ruled that "certain women" could take part in marathons, provided they either started their race 10 minutes before or after the men or on a different starting line. The different starting line requirement was dropped in 1972.

1973 – Terry Williams Munz became the first woman in America awarded an athletic scholarship when she accepted a golf scholarship from the University of Miami.

1974 – The Women's Sports Foundation was created by Billie Jean King in America. It is "a charitable educational organization dedicated to increasing the participation of girls and women in sports and fitness and creating an educated public that supports gender equity in sport."

1976 – Women's rowing was added to the Olympic Games programme at a distance of 1000 metres.

1979 – Crystal Fields, only eleven years old, was the first girl to win a baseball Pitch, Hit, and Run competition in America. She competed against all boys in the finals.

1984 – The U.S. Women’s softball team won the championship in the first Women’s International Cup played in Los Angeles, beating China, 1–0.

1985 – The United States national soccer team was formed.

1987- The [American] National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD) is an annual day of observance held during the first week of February to acknowledge the accomplishments of female athletes, recognize the influence of sports participation for women and girls, and honor the progress and continuing struggle for equality for women in sports.

1991 – All new sports applying to be included in the Olympic program were required to feature women’s events.

1996 – Women’s soccer and women’s softball became medal sports at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta for the first time; both events were won by US teams.

2005 – The organizers of the New York City Marathon announced they would be rewarding the female champion $130,000, that is $30,000 more than its male winner received. This may be the first time a sporting event ever paid more to a female than a male in the same competition. It is also the largest first prize for any marathon