Nearly 50 years after representing its country, the 1976 U.S.A. Women’s Olympic Basketball Team will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend. The award will be presented by two Hall of Famers and iconic members of that team. Ann Meyers, who went on to win a National Championship at UCLA and became the first woman to sign a contract with an NBA team, and Nancy Lieberman, who won two National Championships at Old Dominion after being the youngest member of the 1976 Olympic team will both be included in the ceremony. Both have also spoken with If Not For Them

Other notable inductees with women’s basketball ties include Las Vegas Aces coach Becky Hammon who played 12 years in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), Dwayne Wade, former National Basketball Association (NBA) player who recently bought ownership stake in the WNBA’s Chicago Sky, and longtime Texas A&M coach Gary Blair, who was also interviewed for If Not For Them for his association with the Louisiana Tech National Championship teams of 1981 and 1982.

Women’s basketball was added to the Olympics for the first time at the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal. That first roster featured many of the trailblazers we cover in this series like Lusia Harris and Pat Head (Summitt) as well as coaches Billie Moore and Sue Gunter. The team finished second that year, earning a silver medal, and the players and coaches helped change the trajectory of women’s sports in the U.S. for generations to come.

Given the timing, this group was groundbreaking in a number of ways. Title IX had passed just four years earlier meaning all of the team members were collegiate women’s basketball players for the first time in U.S. history in international competition. Previous U.S. teams that competed internationally prior to the 1976 Olympics were primarily made up of women who competed in the AAU.

The team went 3-2 at the Olympics that year falling to Japan 84-71 in the opening game, then defeating Bulgaria 95-79 and Canada 89-75, before losing to the USSR squad 112-77. They then defeated Czechoslovakia 83-67 to earn the silver medal. The Soviet Union went 5-0 to win gold. 

Several members of the team including Summitt, Harris and Charlotte Lewis, as well as coaches Moore and Gunter have passed away since the team achieved their incredible feats, but the weekend will be a celebration of all their achievements.

1976 USA Women’s Olympic Team Roster

Cindy Brogdon
Nancy Dunkle
Lusia Harris
Pat Head
Charlotte Lewis
Nancy Lieberman
Gail Marquis
Ann Meyers
Mary Anne O’Connor
Patricia Roberts
Sue Rojcewicz
Juliene Simpson

Head Coach: Billie Jean Moore
Assistant Coach: Sue Gunter
Manager: Jeanne Rowlands
Athletic Trainer: Gail Weldon

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