IX AT 50: From WNBA’s first year, KU’s Tamecka Dixon paves the way for women’s pro hoops

Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 11:05 PM CDT
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June 23, 1972, President Nixon signed Title IX into law, prohibiting sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding. Every Thursday at 10:00 p.m. leading up to the 50th anniversary of the law’s passing, 13 Sports will honor the women who changed the game in the last half century — the Trailblazers of Women’s Sports in Kansas.

“IX at 50: The Trailblazers of Women’s Sports in Kansas”

“Whenever I stepped foot on the floor, I knew that it was all bigger than me.”

Tamecka Dixon, KU All-American and WNBA All-Star

LAWRENCE, Kan. (WIBW) - Tamecka Dixon’s accomplishments as a Jayhawk were many, both individually and as a member of the team.

“Whenever I stepped foot on the floor, I knew that it was all bigger than me,” she said. “I made sure that I put my best foot forward, best effort forward, so that I can advance the game the way it needed to be.”

The All-American and two-time conference player of the year helped lead KU to four NCAA Tournaments, the program’s first Sweet Sixteen run, and two conference championships,

“Those are huge as well for me,” Dixon said. “But anything that we do with Allen Fieldhouse is a memory. It’s an amazing place to play and an amazing history to be a part of.”

Dixon dominated her senior season, averaging 20.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game — just as a major opportunity was developing in women’s hoops.

Renee Brown, who was the lead assistant under Coach [Marian] Washington, had left my senior year to take the director of player personnel position for the WNBA. So right away that kind of like signaled that there was going to be that coming, and it was going to happen pretty pretty soon.”

After graduating in 1997, the Lindon, New Jersey-native was part of the inaugural WNBA Draft in Secaucus.

“It was an incredible time to be a part of women’s basketball at that time, because there were so many opportunities coming in,” Dixon said. “Prior to that, your only option was to go overseas if you wanted to continue to play professionally. So it was a cool part of history to be a part of.”

The Los Angeles Sparks selected Dixon 14th overall. The former Jayhawk was the third college player picked in the draft.

The Sparks won back-to-back WNBA championships in 2001 and 2002. Dixon was named an All-Star in three-straight seasons.

“What a time,” Dixon smiled. “What a time.”

She retired after 13 years in the league having netted 3,500 points, dished 961 assists and grabbed 1,032 boards.

But more than that, Dixon became the role model that didn’t exist when she was a young girl.

“When I was growing up, my dream was to be the first girl to play in the NBA. You know, I just didn’t see women playing the sport,” she said. “It’s the reason why I signed every autograph and spent time with every kid that came up to me. I felt like with the platform that I was given, I had a responsibility to show that show to young girls and young boys that anything is possible if they put the hard work in.”

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