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Hawkeye Women's Basketball Hosted the Inaugural Big Ten Tournament

Hawkeye Women's Basketball Hosted the Inaugural Big Ten Tournament

4/16/2023 - In Iowa's first season in women's basketball, the Hawks hosted a round-robin Big Ten conference tournament in December of 1974.

Iowa was 0-3 on the season against Drake, William Penn and Grand View, and had just lost their starting forward Lynn Oberbillig with a dislocated shoulder. But the Big Ten was not very strong yet, as most programs were very new.

I'm not sure of the origins of the tournament idea, but it was hosted by the University of Iowa, and games were played in the North Gym of the Field House.

With the passing of Title IX in June of 1972, the opportunity to fund and support competitive women's sports was underway. Eight of the 10 conference teams had women's basketball programs in the 1974-75 season. Purdue and Northwestern did not field an official team until the 1975-76 season. Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State could not attend due to scheduling conflicts or financial difficulties. That left 5 teams that did attend: Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Indiana.

For the 5 teams, the plan was to play a "Round Robin" tournament, where each team played all other teams, a total of 4 games over 3 days (Dec 6-8th). Indiana would play twice on Friday and Saturday, while the other teams played once Friday, twice Saturday and once Sunday.

It was stated in the Daily Iowan prior to the tournament that no tournament champion would be named. Indiana finished undefeated with a 4-0 record and impressive blowout wins, and newspaper articles mentioned they were named the tournament champion. Perhaps the idea was that this tournament would not be used to determine the conference champion, since not all teams could attend.

Iowa and Wisconsin finished the tournament with 2-2 records, while Illinois and Minnesota both ended with 1-3 records.


Friday Dec 6th, 1974

Indiana defeated Illinois 72-16
Indiana defeated Iowa 87-58
Wisconsin defeated Minnesota 55-45

Saturday Dec 7th, 1974

Indiana defeated Minnesota 93-37
Iowa defeated Minnesota 55-33
Iowa defeated Illinois 62-46
Illinois defeated Wisconsin 57-56
Indiana defeated Wisconsin 83-29

Sunday Dec 8th, 1974

Wisconsin defeated Iowa 65-49
Minnesota defeated Illinois 53-50

The Big Ten did not begin sponsoring women's basketball until the 1982–83 basketball season, but there was a tournament held at Michigan State in February 1982, in which Ohio State defeated Illinois 69–66 in the championship game. The first official single-elimination tournament was held in 1995, and has continued every year since.

I could not find any information about the attendance at the tournament, but even in 1974, the prices seemed very reasonable. Ticket prices for all tournament games were $3 for students and $4 for the general public. Individual game tickets for Friday (3 games) and Sunday (2 games) were 75 cents for students and $1.50 for the general public. Tickets for Saturday's five game were $1 for students and $2 for the general public.

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Hawkeye Women's Basketball Hosted the Inaugural Big Ten Tournament - Summary of Iowa football and basketball games