Pac-10 Celebrates 25 Years in Women's Sports
Dec. 14, 2010
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. -
With 123 NCAA women’s team titles, an unrivaled 527 individual national championships and a culture that has produced some of the greatest athletes of all-time, the Pac-10 has plenty to showcase as it officially launches a celebration of 25 years in women’s sports.
No collegiate conference has had a greater impact on women’s sports than the Pac-10. Established in 1986, women’s sports in the Pac-10 have produced more national championships than any conference in the country and have forged a path for some of the most remarkable athletes to flourish, including Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Florence Griffith-Joyner, Gail Devers, Cheryl Miller, Lisa Leslie, Lisa Fernandez, Jennie Finch, Mary T. Meagher, Janet Evans, Natalie Coughlin, Amanda Beard, Julie Foudy, Kerri Walsh, Bev Oden, Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa to name a few.
“Celebrating 25 years in women’s sports in the Pac-10 allows us to pay tribute to the many influential people who have helped shape and define the landscape in women’s athletics,” Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott said. “The Pac-10 has been a leader in athletic excellence and providing opportunity for women in sports. We are proud of that heritage and are excited to celebrate some of the most amazing accomplishments and people in the history of sports.”
As part of the celebration, the Pac-10 has created a microsite (www.pac-10.org/women25years) dedicated to the anniversary, that will feature stories and videos on some of the most important events, the most successful coaches and greatest athletes ever to compete in the Pac-10.
To help launch the celebration, the Conference will unveil three public service announcements that have been produced by legendary copywriter Janet Champ, co-creator of the iconic Nike women’s fitness campaign in the 1990s.
“We are honored to pay tribute to the many remarkable women, past and present, who have worked so hard to establish the Pac-10 as a true leader in women’s athletics,” Pac-10 Chief Marketing Officer Danette Leighton said. “Janet Champ is an icon, who has helped shape some of the World’s most powerful brands with her creative campaigns. Very few people have had more impact than Janet when it comes to empowering young girls and women, especially in sports. Having her join us for this celebration of women’s sports is truly a highlight to our program.”
Champ, who co-produced the groundbreaking “If You Let Me Play” campaign for Nike, that empowered young girls to participate in sports, has spent her entire career working to improve cultural representationand self-image of women. Aside from living in Oregon, she identified with the Pac-10’s celebration of women’s sports and volunteered to help.
“When the Pac-10 gauged my interest in bringing a voice to such a stellar group of athletes, interest was too mild a word,” says Champ. “These women paved the way for generations of athletes. They're true, unabashed role models for both genders. My art director partner, Rick McQuiston and I wanted to capture the true visceral connection between athlete, fan, competition, and school. Together with our new company Switzerland, we think we've created something powerful.”
Coughlin, Finch and Leslie, three of the most decorated Pac-10 athletes of all-time, provide the voices in the three PSAs, which speak to the athletes, the fans and the impact of sports. Dynamic images of some of the greatest female athletes from Pac-10 schools, including Joyner-Kersee (UCLA), Saori Haruguchi (Oregon State), Grace Park (Arizona State), Anna Mickelson (Washington), Kelly Blair LaBounty (Oregon), Jacquelyn Johnson (Arizona State), Natalie Williams (UCLA), Jennifer Azzi (Stanford), Tina Thompson (USC), Walsh (Stanford), Coughlin (Cal), Finch (Arizona) and Leslie (USC) paint a picture of the determination, perseverance and success that have defined women’s sports in the Pac-10. The PSAs will air on Pac-10 men’s and women’s basketball broadcasts as well as the Conference’s other televised events during the remainder of the 2010-11 academic year. They will also be played on the video boards in each Pac-10 home arena.
“The history of support for women’s sports in the Pac-10 actually predates Title IX and predates NCAA participation,” Arizona State’s Vice President of Athletics Lisa Love said. “The West has been so progressive in this area for a very long time that Title IX just gave it a launching point for a program that was already in existence.”
Led by former Cal Chancellor Michael Heyman, who was the Chairman of the Pac-10 CEO Group in 1986, and a collection of strong women visionaries, including Barbara Hedges (USC), Judith Holland (UCLA), Luella Lilly (Cal), Mary Roby (Arizona), Ramona Plummer (ASU), Chris Voelz (Oregon), Sylvia Moore (Oregon State), Pam Straithairn (Stanford), Kit Green (Washington) and Marcia Saneholtz (Washington State) the Pac-10 instituted a structure that has given women’s administrators the power to shape the direction of both men’s and women’s athletics.
“I was fairly active in regards to getting my colleagues to agree that women should be treated in a first-class way in the conference,” Heyman said. “I just wanted the women to have the same status as the men.”
Shortly after establishing that foundation of equality, the NCAA Championships and opportunities for female administrators and athletes to excel in the Pac-10 began to follow.
In 1987, the Stanford women’s tennis team became the Conference’s first national championship team, claiming the second of six consecutive NCAA titles (1986-91), while UCLA’s softball team captured three straight national championships from 1988-90, starting a run of 10 in row in the sport by Pac-10 teams. Meagher won the first two NCAA individual titles in Pac-10 history when she claimed both the 100 meter and 200 meter butterfly at the 1987 NCAA Women’s Swimming Championships. The Pac-10 has won at least one NCAA Championship in all 11 women’s sports it sponsors.
The Pac-10‘s pioneering spirit was evident in 1991 when the University of Washington made Hedges the first-ever female athletic director overseeing both men’s and women’s athletics programs at a Division I FBS institution. There are currently five female athletic directors in charge of Division I FBS institutions and two of them, Sandy Barbour from Cal and Lisa Love from Arizona State, are in the Pac-10.
In addition to the combined 650 team and individual NCAA Championships, the Pac-10 has had nine student-athletes earn Honda-Broderick Cups as the top female athletes in the country. In 2010, Arizona swimmer Justine Schluntz was named NCAA Woman of the Year, becoming the third Pac-10 athlete in four years to claim the honor.
“The commitment by our institutions to broad based programs and success across the board is evident in those national championships in a variety of programs,” Cal’s Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour said. “You look across the board in so many of our sports and the Pac-10 is the leader across the nation.”