Jody Conradt, a legend in women’s basketball and intercollegiate athletics administration, will be the speaker at the 125th Spring Commencement at The University of Texas at Austin, May 17 on the Main Mall.
Conradt’s 900 career victories and the university’s 1985-86 undefeated NCAA championship team and NCAA Final Four appearances (1982, 1987, 2003) have earned her an honored place in sports history.
But a lesser known fact-that during her 38-year coaching career, 99 percent of her letter winners went on to earn their college degrees-has won her the respect and admiration of the academic community and administrative leaders in higher education.
From the beginning of her 31-year coaching career at The University of Texas at Austin, Conradt was as much a catalyst for social change as she was a coach. Her initiatives weaved a new perspective into the social fabric in how our society viewed women in sports.
“Jody Conradt has been a pioneer in women’s college basketball, and thereby in progress toward equality for young women,” said William Powers Jr., president of The University of Texas at Austin. “As the father of three daughters who have been heavily involved in high school sports, I am, myself, a beneficiary of her transformative work. UT is proud that Jody Conradt has been a leader on our campus for 32 years, and we look forward to her sharing her inspirational thoughts with our graduates.”
Conradt arrived on the Austin campus four years after passage of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, legislation that prohibits discrimination in all educational activities on the basis of sex. Conradt worked to create opportunities for talented women to gain access to higher education with sports as a part of that opportunity. She broke through barriers for women, and especially for women of color, providing them access to a quality education through their sports skills.
Although retired from coaching, Conradt continues working as a special assistant in Athletics as a resource for fund raising and community relations initiatives. Conradt and Donna Lopiano, who preceded Conradt as the university’s director of women’s athletics, founded the Neighborhood Longhorns outreach program in 1991. The educational incentive program involves university students and student-athletes volunteering to help improve grade performance among economically disadvantaged children in the Austin Independent School District. The program grew so exponentially that it now is supervised by the vice president for diversity and community engagement.