American basketball coach
Jody Conradt, the powerhouse women's basketball coach at the University of Texas-Austin (UT), has won more college women's basketball games than any other coach in history. At a last count just shy of 800 wins, she also holds the record for coaching 1,000 games—the first female coach to do so. She's a five-time Southwest Conference Coach of the Year, multiple National Coach of the Year, and Hall of Famer. As UT's women's athletic director from 1992 to 2001, she grew women's sports at a time when the school was facing the federal government's Title IX.
For the Love of Coaching
Jody Conradt grew up in Goldthwaite, a small town near Austin, Texas, where sports were a way of life for both boys and girls. She attended Goldthwaite High School, where she played for the Eagles basketball team. During her high school career, she was known for her determination and hard work and averaged forty points per game.
In 1959, she entered Baylor University in Waco, Texas, eventually earning a bachelor's and later a master's degree in physical education. The 5'7" athlete played on the school's inaugural varsity team, averaged twenty points per game, and earned four letters. As a teacher at Waco Midway High School, Conradt learned that coaching was where her heart lay when her mentor, M.T. Rice, one of the state's most successful girls' basketball coaches, asked her to help coach his team.
Conradt began her collegiate coaching career at Sam Houston State in Huntsville, Texas, in 1969. Named head basketball coach, she recorded a school record of 74-23, and also oversaw the women's volleyball and track teams. In 1973, she ventured to the University of Texas-Arlington where she coached basketball, volleyball, and softball and left with an Arlington basketball record of 43-39.
Conradt's career truly exploded in 1976 when she became head coach at the University of Texas-Austin. With women's sports underrepresented, she created a model women's program that propelled the Lady Longhorns to a streak of successful seasons. The team ranked in the Top 20 her first year, followed by a 37-4 finish and Top 15 rank the second year, and Top 5 rank the third year. By 1980, Conradt had led her team to a 33-4 season and she had won National Coach of the Year, a title she would wear four times during her career.
The Longhorns were fast becoming one of the most successful basketball teams in the country winning six consecutive AIAW tournaments. During this time, Conradt's accolades continued to accumulate. She joined the NCAA in 1982 and brought her team to the top four straight years. She became a five-time Southwestern Conference Coach of the Year between 1984 and 1996, and was inducted into the Texas Women's Hall of Fame in 1986.
The Personal Touch
Conradt is known for her personal touch when recruiting players and for her success in building an enthusiastic fan base. She scoured Texas high schools personally to find the best players, learned about their programs, and interacted with players and coaches on a personal level. For the fans, Conradt used her visibility and charismatic personality to increase attendance at games. Growing to hundreds then thousands, fans liked what they were seeing and kept coming back.
|1941||Born May 13 in Goldthwaite, Texas|
|1955-59||Attended Goldthwaite High School|
|1963||Earned bachelor's degree in physical education at Baylor University|
|1963||Taught at Waco Midway High School|
|1969||Earned master's degree|
|1969-73||Head basketball coach Sam Houston State (Huntsville, TX)|
|1973-76||Coached University of Texas at Arlington|
|1976||Becomes head coach of University of Texas at Austin|
|1982||Joins National Collegiate Athletic Association|
|1986||Leads Texas to the NCAA title with a 34-0 record|
|1992||Becomes University of Texas Women's Athletic Director|
|2001||Resigns as UT Women's Athletic Director|
|2001||Recognized by Texas State Senate for her 1,000th game|
Conradt's continued success fueled the excitement. In 1986, Texas had grown into one of the finest teams in basketball and proved it by winning the NCAA national championship with a record 34-0, the first unbeaten season in NCAA women's history. Conradt led her team to the 1986 and 1987 Final Four.
The year 1987 was a busy one, as Conradt not only received the Women's Basketball Coaches Association's Carol Eckman Award, but also managed the US team to a gold medal at the 1987 Pan American Games. By 1990, she would dominate the Southwest Conference by winning 183 consecutive league games during the twelve-year stretch since 1978, one of the longest win streaks for any sport in college history.
The Athletic Director
Conradt became UT-Austin's Women's Athletic Director in 1992, replacing Dr. Donna Lopiano, who had held the seat for the past eighteen years. At the time, the school was facing mandated compliance with Title IX, a federal law that required equality between men's and women's athletic programs at public universities. Now as director, Conradt oversaw the school's newly installed varsity soccer, softball, and rowing programs.
Despite her numerous accomplishments, the achievement that put her in the record books was on December 18, 1997, becoming the first female collegiate coach to win 700 games when Texas defeated Northwestern 89-86. Her 500th win, out of 589 games, had been the fastest achieved at one school by a women's college coach, and her 600th win, out of 753 games, had been the second fastest.
Not surprisingly, these honors were followed by Conradt's naming to the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1998, the Basketball Hall of Fame, and a spot in the Top 50 Women's Sports Executives by Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal, all in 1998, and the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame a year later.
By 1999, with her college coaching record of 766 wins, Conradt ranked ninth all-time in men's and women's collegiate basketball victories, and second best among all active collegiate basketball coaches. Rapidly approaching the 800 mark by December 2002, Conradt, with 793 wins, was neck-in-neck competition with University of Tennessee coach Pat Summitt with 796 wins.
In 2000, Conradt was the first woman, and one of only seventeen coaches, to coach 1,000 games in the NCAA Division One. On May 18, 2001, the Texas State Senate passed a resolution recognizing Jody Conradt's perseverance, honesty, and dedication, and her contribution to women's sports in response to coaching her 1,000th game.
Conradt resigned her post as athletic director of UT in 2001 to concentrate on coaching. During her tenure as director, Texas teams won six NCAA national championships (track and field and tennis) and thirty-nine conference championships. The women's program grew to eleven varsity sports. Between 1992 and 2001 she had overseen ten NCAA Championship caliber, women's athletics programs.
In an article in the Daily Texan following her 1,000th game, Conradt noted that she never wanted to continue on in the administrative role but to return to what she loved most, coaching young women. "This has always been my dream job. What gets me excited and motivates me is working with young people," she said.
During her career, Conradt has coached four Olympians, twenty-nine All-Americans (NCAA and AIAW), six SWC Players of the Year, two National Players of the Year, three Wade Trophy National Players of the Year winners, one Broderick National Female Athlete of the Year Award winner (Kamie Ethridge), forty-nine All-Conference honor winners, twenty-one players who went to the pros, and Clarissa Davis, the NCAA 1980s Player of the Decade.
Awards and Accomplishments
|1980, 1984, 1986, 1997||National Coach of the Year|
|1984-85||Southwestern Conference Coach of the Year|
|1986||Texas Women's Hall of Fame|
|1987||Carol Eckman Award|
|1987||Pan American Games gold medal for US team|
|1987-88||Southwestern Conference Coach of the Year|
|1991||National Association for Girls and Women in Sports Award|
|1995||International Women's Sports Hall of Fame|
|1996||Southwestern Conference Coach of the Year|
|1997||December 18 became the 8th coach in history to win 700 games|
|1997||Recipient of the inaugural John and Nellie Wooden Award as the women's basketball national Coach of the Year|
|1998||Naismith National Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame October 2|
|1998||Texas Sports Hall of Fame|
|1998||One of the Top 50 Women's Sports Executives|
|1999||Women's Basketball Hall of Fame|
|1999||Finalist for Naismith Women's Basketball Coach of the Century|
|1999||Finalist for John and Nellie Wooden National Coach of the Year Award|
|2001||First woman to coach 1,000 games in a career|
Conradt is active with community and charitable institutions, such as Girl Scouts, the Susan B. Komen Foundation, and Coaches vs. Cancer. She conducted a lecture in November 2001 at the University of Texas' Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, speaking about her experiences with team building and leadership during her tenure as basketball coach and administrator.
Lawlor, Chris. "The ayes of Texas are upon her." Scholastic Coach & Athletic Director (March 1998): 52.
Patrick, Dick. "800 wins." USA Today (December 20, 2002) 11.
Basketball Hall of Fame. http://www.hoophall.com/halloffamers/conradt.htm (January 15, 2003).
Daily Texan. http://tspweb02.tsp.utexas.edu/webarchive/04-06-01/2001040601_s06_Conradt.html (January 15, 2003).
Sports Illustrated. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/college/women/news/2001/04/05/conradt_ad_ap/ (January 15, 2003).
Texas Longhorns. http://www.texassports.com (January 15, 2003).
Texas State Capitol. http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlo/77R/billtext/SR01094F.htm (January 15, 2003).
University of Texas. http://www.utexas.edu/lbj/news/S2001/conraddt.html (January 15, 2003).
Sketch by Lorraine Savage