Whitney Hale

By

College: Libraries

Sesquicentennial Series: Origin of UK Hoops

Published: Sep 21, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 21, 2012) In celebration of the University of Kentucky's upcoming sesquicentennial in 2015, the 24th of 150 weekly installments on the university looks at the history of UK women's basketball.    

 

Women’s basketball was established on the UK campus in 1902. The 1902-03 women’s basketball team was the first of either sex at the then called State College, Lexington, Kentucky, to play a full intercollegiate schedule.

 

At State College, there was no place to play basketball until Barker Hall was built. Even then, basketball was not a spectator sport for the simple reason that the gym could not accommodate more than those who could stand around the floor of the balcony, which was also the running track. From 1903 on, the men shared the gym with the women.

 

Women’s basketball was taken quite seriously by the women themselves, but not, it seems, by the male students. According to "Hail Kentucky" by Helen Deiss Irvin, "A Kentuckian of 1904 reports a game as one vast tide of straight hair, stray hair, curls and ribbons reversed and cries of 'Here Rebekah,' and 'Oh, Gemima, how could you?'" That same year one Herman Scholtz disguised himself as a girl and went to Georgetown with the coeds, obviously with their connivance. There he watched a spirited contest forbidden to male spectators. He had to be punished, but the faculty was at a loss. Although there were more than 180 specific rules, nobody had ever thought to include one against dressing up as a girl. Scholtz got a general reprimand.

 

For the first few years of its existence on UK's campus, the women's basketball team mostly played inter-class scrimmages, only playing one or two intercollegiate games per season. All games were carefully monitored by Florence Offutt Stout, the women's physical education director and first dean of women, and no spectators were allowed. Stout was a proponent of "medical gymnastics," a more gentle form of physical exercise targeted at promoting physical health and eliminating obesity, and considered competitive sports at odds with this program.

 

In 1909, the women's basketball team complained via a petition to the faculty senate stating that Stout did not support the development of the sport and asked that the athletic association take over the management of the team. This started a power struggle which stretched over almost two decades among Stout, women students in favor of the sport, and the athletic association.

 

In 1924, bolstered by the support of newly appointed Dean of Women Sarah Blanding, Stout finally convinced the University Senate and UK President Frank L. McVey that basketball was "too strenuous for girls." McVey cited this "strenuousity" and the claim that road trips for the team were prohibitively expensive due to "the necessity of proper chaperonage" as reasons for banning women's basketball. This was in spite of the fact that the 1923-1924 women's team had won the Southern Intercollegiate Championship after an undefeated 10-0 season. All women's intercollegiate varsity sports were discontinued on Nov. 13, 1924. Ironically, the 1924-1925 season marked the first season of men's basketball play in Alumni Gym and a rise of popularity in the game on campus.

 

In the next decades, women's basketball continued to be played in physical education classes, and later as an intramural sport, but organizing campus dances became the primary focus of the Women's Athletic Association. It was not until 1974 that women's basketball was reinstated as a varsity sport, with Sue Feamster serving as the first coach of a varsity team in 50 years.

 

Today, the university's women's basketball team is coached by Matthew Mitchell. UK Hoops, the 2012 SEC (Southeastern Conference) regular season champions, made it to the Elite Eight in the 2012 NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) tournament.

 

A fuller account of the early years of women's basketball and the campus politics affecting it can be found in Gregory Kent Stanley's book "Before Big Blue." In addition, UK Athletics offers a historic timeline of women's basketball achievements on its website under "History and records."

 

This story on UK's history is presented by UK Special Collections. Special Collections is home to UK Libraries' collection of rare books, Kentuckiana, the Archives, the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, the King Library Press and the Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center. The mission of Special Collections is to locate and preserve materials documenting the social, cultural, economic and political history of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

 

 

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, (859) 257-8716 or whitney.hale@uky.edu

ky_state_college_womens_basketball_team_1902-03miriam_nave_alice_pence_nell_norwood_fanny_redd_amanda_maull_helen_jaeger_willie_spier_jimmie_offutt_and_mary_e._clarke_coached_by_jane_todd_watson.pngbarker_hall_gymnasium_1901.jpg1921_womens_basketball_team_with_sarah_blanding.jpg1974_write-up_of_womens_basketball_team.jpg
September
 
 
 
 
1
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
LGBTQ* and Friends Employee Picnic
Thu
2
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Fri
3
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Sat
4
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Sun
5
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Labor Day - Academic Holiday
Mon
6
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Wildcat Wellness Workshop: EXPRESSIONS
Tue
7
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Let's Talk!
Wildcat Wellness Workshop: MEDITATION
UK Women's Club Volleyball - Open Gym
From The Streets to The Stage With Monti Washington
Wed
8
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Wildcat Wellness Workshop: YOGA
#IAMACCEPTANCE Let's Talk Mental Health with Hakeem Rahim
Thu
9
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
2016 New Chinese Students Welcome Party
Accounting Internship & Career Fair
Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) Suicide Prevention Training
Fri
10
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Sat
11
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Whipping In The Kitchen
Sun
12
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Let's Talk!
Mon
13
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Wildcat Wellness Workshop: EXPRESSIONS
UKWC Welcome Coffee
Tue
14
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Last Day to Drop a Course Without Appearing on Transcript
Let's Talk!
Wildcat Wellness Workshop: MEDITATION
Greek Park Pictures
Wed
15
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Let's Talk!
Let's Talk!
Wildcat Wellness Workshop: YOGA
Thu
16
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
A Day of Rising Strong
Fri
17
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Sat
18
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Sun
19
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Let's Talk!
Mon
20
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
UK Women's Forum Board Meeting
UK Elder Care Lunch & Learn - Best Friends Approach to Dementia Care
Wildcat Wellness Workshop: EXPRESSIONS
Cuban Heritage Festival
Tue
21
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Last Day to Withdraw to Receive 50% Refund
Let's Talk!
Wildcat Wellness Workshop: MEDITATION
Horticulture Club Farm Market Sale
Wed
22
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Let's Talk!
Let's Talk!
Wildcat Wellness Workshop: YOGA
TGIT with SAB
Thu
23
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Fri
24
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Sat
25
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Film Screening of "The Fly Room"
Sun
26
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Film Screening of "The Fly Room"
Let's Talk!
Empower: People of Color Support Group
Film Screening of "The Fly Room"
Mon
27
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
FIFA Tournament
Wildcat Wellness Workshop: EXPRESSIONS
UK Engineering and Computer Science Career Fair
Banned Books--A short history
Tue
28
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
FIFA Tournament
Let's Talk!
Wildcat Wellness Workshop: MEDITATION
Horticulture Club Farm Market Sale
Cats Got The Vote
Business Internship & Career Fair
Women In Technology Gala event for UK undergraduate women
NSE (National Student Exchange) Information Session
Wed
29
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
FIFA Tournament
Let's Talk!
Let's Talk!
Wildcat Wellness Workshop: YOGA
Yoga at Commonwealth Stadium
Thu
30
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Indonesia Focus Conference
Indonesia Focus Conference
Craft Writing: Beer, the Digital, and Craft Culture
Fri
 
Sep 29
Let's Talk! 09/29/2016

Thu, 09/29/2016

Repeats every 7 days until Tue Dec 20 2016 .
Mon, 10/03/2016

Reset Page