Conradt's mark on UT campus continues
Oct. 4, 2012
John Byczek, Texas Media Relations
As a teacher, as a coach, and most importantly as a woman, Jody Conradt has made a permanent and everlasting mark on The University of Texas at Austin. The University and the Texas Athletics family will hold a dedication in her honor on Friday, Oct. 5, at the Frank Erwin Center.
A seven-foot bronze statue of Conradt’s likeness will be unveiled and it, too, will be an everlasting part of The University of Texas campus. An illustrative panel behind the statue will showcase the dynamic life of Conradt.
“It’s just great that we can cap her success off with an in perpetuity symbol to her,” said Chris Plonsky, UT Women’s Athletics Director. “It’s not about the basketball as much as it is about a person who, combined with the vision of this campus and the people on campus, continued to work and foster opportunity for women and higher education, and in our case athletics.”
The statue and exhibit recognizes Conradt’s success as a basketball coach, including her 900 career wins, induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998, and her undefeated national championship season in 1985-86. The ceremony will also promote the newly repositioned Jody Conradt Opportunity Initiative, and most importantly commemorate Conradt’s leadership and major role in the University’s history since the passing of Title IX.
On June 23 of this year, the Title IX legislation, which prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions, became 40 years old.
In addition to her 31 years as women’s basketball coach at UT, Conradt also served in a dual role from 1992-2001 as women’s athletics director. During that time, Conradt supervised the addition of three women’s sports and led UT through the dissolution of the Southwest Conference and its move to the Big 12.
“Coach symbolizes so much of those opportunities. When they were presented, somebody had to lead it,” Plonsky said. “She did it the right way. She emphasized academics and graduation. She wanted to be excellent in her sport, but she was also about developing young women so they could go on to become whoever they wanted to become.”
Conradt’s gift was how she related to and influenced young women. As Title IX had just passed, she wanted her student-athletes to take advantage of their new opportunities, on and off the basketball court. Conradt’s players boasted a 99 percent graduation rate.
Knowing this and her many other accomplishments, Brian Hanlon, the sculptor commissioned by The University of Texas to create Conradt’s statue, was honored to do the job.
“I was very humbled,” Hanlon said. “She is an amazing human being and an amazing woman. She’s the pioneer of women’s sports. I always have to look at subject matter 50 years from now, and 50 years from now I want people to know that Jody Conradt had a 99 percent graduation rate, she was involved in the formation of Title IX, and most profoundly, she had 900 wins. That’s incredible.”
Plonsky was overwhelmed by how close Hanlon’s depiction of Conradt was. “Brian just nailed it. It was hard to get her in a position of coaching, because in coaching you yell a lot, or in her case she stomped her feet a lot in those high heeled shoes,” Plonsky laughed.
Conradt’s statue depicts her grasping a basketball and holding up the oh-so-recognizable “Hook ‘Em Horns” hand signal. There was no better place for the statue than in the Frank Erwin Center. After all, it was her classroom.
“Jody’s always about Texas. She’s so proud to have worked for this University,” Plonsky said. “She is an amazingly composed, tough, smart person. To all the kids’ benefits, look what we have today. Girls in sports like rowing, soccer, and softball will get to come, and it might strike them that their opportunities exist because of a basketball coach. I hope that’s the take away for a lot of people.”
Conradt always believed that if you can see it, you can be it. But growing up playing basketball under male coaches, she had to forge her own path. Now, for women, men, and students alike, a perpetual symbol of Conradt – a winner, a pioneer and a leader – will always be visible in the Frank Erwin Center.
“For all of time in that concourse area, there will be Coach Conradt,” Plonsky said.