The History of Women's Basketball

You may be surprised to know that women began playing basketball less that a year after the game was invented in 1891. However, when women�s basketball originated, the players had to wear corsets and floor-length skits. The only skin they were allowed to show was their fingers, neck, and heads. The game has come a long way since then.

Take a look at the timeline to see just how much women�s basketball has evolved.

1892 � Gymnastics instructor Sendra Berenson Abbott adapts James Naismith�s basketball rules for women and introduces the game at Smith College. The first inter-institutional game is played the same year between the University of California and Miss Head�s School.

March 13, 1895 � Clara Gregory Baer, a physical education teacher at Sophie Newcomb College in New Orleans, publishes �Basquette,� the first set of basketball rules for women.

April 4, 1896 � The first women�s intercollegiate game takes place at the Armory Hall in Stanford and Cal. Stanford won the game, 2-1.

1905 � The Executive Committee on Basketball Rules is formed with support of the American Physical Education Association.

1918 � The rules of women�s basketball are rewritten to conform to the wording and sequence of the men�s rules. The game is called by 11 officials, there is no coaching allowed during the game, except at halftime, and a basket with an open bottom is now used instead of a closed basket with a pull chain.

1924 � The International Women�s Sports Federation is formed and holds its own version of the Olympic games. Women�s basketball is included in the competition.

1926 � The Amateur Athletic Union sponsors the first-ever national women�s basketball championship, using men�s rules.

1953 � The USA women�s basketball team with the gold medal in the World Championships.

1969 � The Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics for Women hosts its first of three �national championships� of women�s college basketball.

1971 � The five-player, full court game is adopted and the 30-second shot clock is introduced.

1973 � The Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women�s awards the first scholarships for women.

January 27, 1975 � Immaculata College defeats the University of Maryland, 85-63, in the first-ever regular-season nationally televised game.

March 1975 � By sponsoring the inaugural Women�s Basketball Coaches Clinic, the Eastman Kodak Company becomes the first corporate sponsor for women�s basketball.

July, 1976 � Women�s basketball debuts at the Montreal Olympics. The U.S. wins the silver medal.

December 9, 1978 � The first game of the Women�s Professional Basketball League took place between the Chicago Hustle and the Milwaukee Does. The eight-team league lasted three seasons.

August 30, 1979 � Ann Meyers, 24, signs a $50,000 contract with the NBA�s Indiana Pacers. She receives a tryout, but does not make the team.

1981 � The first NCAA Women�s National Championships are held. Also, the Women�s Basketball Coaches Association is formed.

1984 � The U.S. women�s basketball team captures its first Olympic gold medal in Los Angeles. This year, the NCAA introduces a smaller basketball for women as well.

February 10, 1991 � Shock assistant coach Laurie Byrd scores a game high 25 points in the first, and only, game of the Liberty Basketball Association. The game between the Detroit Dazzlers and the LBA All-Stars took place at the Palace in front of 10,753 spectators. The Dazzlers won 104-84. The league, which featured shorter courts, lower rims, and unitards folded after the first game.

November 1994 � The inaugural 16-team women�s preseason National Invitation Tournament (NIT) is held.

April 24, 1996 � The NBA Board of Governors approves of the Women�s National Basketball Association Concept.

October 18, 1996 � The American Basketball League tips off its first season with eight teams.

October 23, 1996 � The first players, Rebecca Lobo, and Sheryl Swoopes are signed to play in the WNBA. Their Olympic teammate Lisa Leslie soon follows.

October 30, 1996 � Eight cities; Charlotte, Cleveland, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, Sacramento, and Utah, are selected to be homes to the WNBA�s charter teams.

February 27, 1997 � The WNBA holds its Elite Draft for 16 signed veteran players.

April 28, 1997 � The WNBA holds its draft for college players and unsigned veterans. Tina Thompson of USC is the first pick.

June 21, 1997 � The first WNBA season begins.

June 13, 1998 � The Detroit Shock play their first-ever WNBA game.

1999 � The first class is inducted into the new Women�s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Kentucky.