Memphis administrators, coaches celebrate Title IX’s impact


By Phil Stukenborg

Fifty years ago, Mary Lou Johns found herself on a unique recruiting mission as she attempted to find players for her then-Memphis State University women’s basketball team.

Johns had been named head coach, but back in the early 1970s women’s college basketball wasn’t the enterprise and success story it is today. Remarkably, Memphis hadn’t offered women’s basketball as a team sport in nearly 20 years. So she parked herself in the hallway of the school’s fieldhouse and observed footwear.

“I would stand in the fieldhouse after classes and if someone was wearing high-top tennis shoes it meant they probably played high school basketball,” said Johns, who spent almost 20 years as the school’s coach. “I’d pick them out and say` Come over here. ‘ They thought they were getting in trouble. “

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