She may be gone from the sideline, but Ms. Jody Conradt’s presence can still be felt at the University of Texas. Though no longer one of the most recognized figures in women’s basketball, she now serves the school as a special assistant to the women’s athletics director.For her continued involvement with sports and trying to help others, not to mention her past achievement, Conradt will be honored with a 2015 Distinguished Service Award (DSA) by the United States Sports Academy.
The DSA is given annually to those individuals who have made outstanding contributions to national or international sport through education, research or service. The DSA is separate from the Academy’s Awards of Sport and each recipient also receives the coveted Order of the Eagle Exemplar for their achievements. Each nominee must possess an extensive background in sport, which means that the individual must have had significant dealings in instruction, research or service in sport for more than 10 years.
Hailing from humble roots in the West Texas small town of Goldthwaite, Conradt developed a passion for basketball, first as a player and then as a coach. In high school, she averaged 40 points per game. At Baylor University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1963, she averaged 20 points per game. Conradt really scored, though, once she took up coaching.
At first, she taught and coached for six years at Waco Midway High School, a stint that allowed her to pursue and earn her master’s degree at Baylor. She then stepped up to the collegiate level, guiding her teams at Sam Houston State University to a 74-23 record in four years. Then it was on to Texas-Arlington for three years, which yielded a 43-39 mark.
In 1976, Conradt took over the Longhorns’ program, and for the next 31 years it was a dynamic one, making postseason play 27 times. Conradt’s impact was immediate, too. After having to build a losing program at UT-Arlington in a 23-11 winner her final season there, she arrived in Austin, Texas, and delivered a 36-10 outfit right out of the chute.
That proved to be just a precursor of things to come as well as the Longhorns would go 198-40 as a independent in her first six seasons. Then came the magic show from 1982 through 1996 when, as a member of the Southwest Conference, Texas went 360-85 with 12 straight NCAA appearances at one point, including a national title-winning campaign in 1986.
The Longhorns remained a national program the remainder of Conradt’s coaching career, even making the Final Four in 2003, not to mention Sweet 16s the year before and after that. All told, she won exactly 900 games as a women’s basketball coach, was the first women’s basketball coach to reach the 700-win plateau, was the second woman ever inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and was named the National Coach of the Year four times.
In a truly amazing testament to Conradt’s teaching skills, take note that she also coached volleyball at UT-Arlington and Texas a combined five years, posting a 165-76-15 record in the process. She also served as women’s athletics director at Texas from 1992 through 2001.
Today, as mentioned above, she continues to serve Texas athletics and the university community in general, having set up the Jody Conradt Excellence Fund, which is used primarily to support the “Inspire” program that features a curriculum created to develop leadership, talent and capabilities among undergraduate women at Texas. She also established the Jody Conradt Project for Women’s Health and Wellness Research, a project through the university’s College of Education that reflects the issues that affect women locally, nationally and globally, with the intent to improve the lives of women and adolescent girls in underserved communities.
Finally, there is the Jody Conradt Opportunity Fund that provides support to student-athletes pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees after the eligibility has expired.
The United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission Sports University created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research, and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports. For more information about the Academy visit www.ussa.edu.