IX at 50: Ann Meyers-Drysdale breaks barriers in NBA and beyond

IX at 50: Ann Meyers-Drysdale
Published: Apr. 7, 2022 at 10:48 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. Title IX has largely been considered the springboard for high school and collegiate women’s sports to get where they are today — but the fight for equality is far from over. Every Thursday night 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 for girls’ and women’s sports in Kansas.

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

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Ann Meyers-Drysdale has broken down countless barriers in her career.

She was the first high school girls basketball player selected to a US National Team, the first woman offered a full ride scholarship to UCLA, and the first four-time Kodak all-American. She started on the first women’s Olympic basketball team in 1976 and won a silver medal.

“It was huge. It was huge for where women’s basketball is today, and where women’s sports are today.”

In 1978, she led the Bruins to an AIAW National Title.

“It was the first time it was going to be on TV, it’s the first time it was the ‘Final Four,’ and it’s the first time we had almost 10,000 people at the games.”

Then, one day, her phone rang.

On the end: The NBA’s Indiana Pacers.

“And I was like, ‘What?’” she said. “But things were changing. It was the opportunity of a lifetime.”

To this day, she’s the first, and only, woman to sign an NBA contract.

“After the three day tryout, I did not make the team as a player, but I was still working for the organization,” she said. “The door opened up for broadcasting. And so I was the first woman to broadcast in the NBA with the Pacers.”

That launched a 40-year NBA career in broadcast.

Today, she’s the vice president of the Phoenix Suns and Mercury.

“Don’t look back on life and say, ‘What if? I would’ve, could’ve, should’ve,’” she said. “Don’t look back. When you have an opportunity, go ahead and take it - no matter what the consequences.”

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