A crowd of 9,627 fans cheered as the Indiana University women’s basketball team, sporting its classic cream-and-crimson uniforms, took the court at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall for its second-round NCAA Tournament game in March. IU’s roster featured domestic and international scholarship players who had been playing hoops since they were children.
Fifty years ago, such a scene was almost unimaginable for women who wanted to play basketball — or any sport — at IU and colleges across the country.
When IU started a varsity women’s basketball program for the 1971-72 academic year, players were recruited with fliers posted around campus announcing tryouts. Most of the players were majors in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, and they added numbers to their HPER shirts to create their basketball jerseys. The team practiced and played games in an upper-level gym in the HPER building with a limited gathering of family and students watching.