Women's athletics at Stanford University have come a long way over the past five decades since Title IX, the landmark legislation that brought gender equality to education — and sports — became federal law on June 23, 1972.
Stanford's female athletes have won 139 Olympic medals, 258 individual collegiate national titles and 79 team national championships — the most from one U.S. university.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the passage of Title IX and the achievements of its female athletes, Stanford Athletics has nominated its first all-female class of inductees to its Hall of Fame. They will officially join in September.
The class of former student-athletes includes: Lisa Bernhagen Ramos (women's track and field), Elaine Breeden Penrose (women's swimming and diving), Margie Dingeldein (women's water polo), Ashley Hansen Church (softball), Carly Janiga Reardon (women's gymnastics), Nneka Ogwumike (women's basketball), Christen Press (women's soccer) and Sally Voss Krueger (women's golf).
Tara VanDerveer (women's basketball) will be inducted for her legendary coaching career, which enters a 37th season in 2022-23, while longtime volunteer Linda R. Meier will receive special recognition for her service to the department.
In addition to producing a combined four NCAA team championships and six NCAA individual titles, multiple inductees have also claimed Olympic medals or been honored as their sport's national player of the year. All eight former student-athletes were recognized as All-Americans in multiple seasons.
The athletes will be inducted in an evening ceremony on Friday, Sept. 9, at Bing Auditorium and publicly introduced on Saturday, Sept. 10, during Stanford's football game against University of Southern California.
Stanford Athletic Director Bernard Muir said the Hall of Fame class is meant not only to honor legends of the past, but also to inspire and support legends of the future.
"As we celebrate the incredible achievements of the Cardinal's women's sports programs of the past, we are committed to strengthening Stanford's position of leadership in women's sports, and to providing an unrivaled opportunity for current and future Cardinal student-athletes to pursue their dreams while inspiring other young women to do the same," Muir stated in an open letter to the Stanford community.
Nominees for the Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame are selected based on athletic/academic achievement and post-Stanford success, such as their Olympic, international and professional career, as well as any notable civic service and leadership. Student-athletes are eligible for induction 10 years after their final competition season, said Brian Risso, assistant athletics director at Stanford.
While the university today can boast an unparalleled athletics program, women's sports got off on a rocky start.
When President Richard Nixon signed Title IX of the Education Amendments into law, both Stanford Athletic Director Joe Ruetz and Pamela Strathairn, the head of Stanford's women's athletic programs, were concerned about investing in women's sports without a guarantee that engagement in the women's programs would remain strong for a long time, according to an article that appeared in The Stanford Daily in 1974.
Stanford's female athletes argued that they couldn't create engagement without proper investment and equipment, as the men's programs received.
The Stanford women's rowing team, which had none of the amenities provided to the men's team at its inception in 1974, successfully lobbied for access to equipment, like boats, during a meeting with Ruetz and Stanford crew boosters, according to an October 1974 issue of The Stanford Daily.
In the following weeks, many discussions and meetings were held to address how Stanford's athletic funding would be divided up between male and female programs. Most of the boosters who supported Stanford Athletics at the time warned against giving too much money to women's programs before they could "see some evidence of talent," as reported by The Stanford Daily in November 1974.
Since then, Stanford's talent and athletic success in women's sports has been unparalleled. Across Stanford's 20 women's athletic programs, two have an overall winning percentage above 90%, three more above 75% and four have reached the NCAA tournament at least 30 times.
Stanford women's tennis and women's swimming and diving — the two programs with an overall winning percentage above 90% — along with women's volleyball and women's water polo, all hold the most national titles in the country in their respective sports. In fact, of the 40 NCAA team titles given out in women's tennis, Stanford has half of them, in addition to 15 individual singles titles, according to Stanford Athletics.
Women's tennis, women's volleyball, women's basketball and women's soccer, the four programs who have qualified for at least 30 NCAA tournaments, have reached the tournament a combined 146 times. Of those 146 instances, the four teams have collectively appeared in 81 semifinals and 54 finals and have won 35 national titles. Since 2009, Stanford women's sports teams have won at least one national championship every year.
Despite the unrivaled success of Stanford's women's sports teams and the progress that has been made in the past 50 years, Muir still believes there is more work to be done in the next half-century and beyond to ensure equality is met.
"As we reflect on the deep history of women's sports success here at Stanford, we also know that the work for equality is not finished," Muir said.
The Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame was originated by Walt Gamage, a longtime sports editor of the Palo Alto Times. Gamage, who had previously worked on many neighborhood newspapers in the Chicago area, moved to Palo Alto in 1944 and quickly became interested in Stanford sports. In early 1954, Gamage organized a Hall of Fame. The first class of inductees, including 34 of the greatest names in Stanford sports history, was announced in a full-page spread in the Palo Alto Times in 1954, according to the Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame website.
In addition to the Hall of Fame ceremony, the Stanford Athletics department will be hosting fundraising efforts to promote Stanford women's sports and events honoring the history of women's sports at Stanford.
For more information, go to gostanford.com.
Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2022:
• Lisa Bernhagen Ramos '89 (track & field) — 1987 NCAA indoor high jump national champion, six-time All-American.
• Elaine Breeden Penrose '10 (swimming) — Olympic silver medalist in 2008, four-time NCAA champion, seven-time Pac-10 champion.
• Margie Dingeldein '02 (water polo) — Olympic bronze medalist in 2004, four-time All-American.
• Ashley Hansen '12 (softball) — 2011 USA Softball Player of the Year, four-time First Team All-Pac-12.
• Carly Janiga Reardon '10 (gymnastics) — 2010 NCAA champion on the uneven bars, nine-time All-American, five-time Pac-10 champion.
• Linda R. Meier (service) — Founded scholarship program for women's athletics in 1978, first woman to chair Stanford Athletics Board.
• Nneka Ogwumike '12 (basketball) — 2016 WNBA Most Valuable Player, 2010 Pac-10 Player of the Year, 2012 Pac-12 Player of the Year, No. 1 overall pick in 2012 WNBA draft, three-time All-American.
• Christen Press '10 (soccer) — 2010 MAC Hermann Trophy recipient, two-time World Cup champion in 2015 and 2019, school record holder in points, goals and shots.
• Tara Vanderveer (basketball) — Olympic gold medalist in 1996 (as coach), all-time winningest coach in NCAA women's basketball history and one of four NCAA Division I coaches with 1,000 wins, five-time national coach of the year, three-time national champion (as coach).
• Sally Voss Krueger '79 (golf) — 1979 California Women's Amateur champion, two-time First Team All-American.