Billie Moore: Women’s basketball pioneer dies at 79

Billie Moore: Women’s basketball pioneer dies at 79

Billie Moore: Women’s basketball pioneer dies at 79


Billie Moore, head coach of the first-ever U.S. women’s basketball Olympic team, first head coach to lead two schools to national women’s basketball championships, and a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, died Wednesday at age 79.

Her death was announced by UCLA, where she led the Bruins to a 1978 Intercollegiate Athletics Association Women’s National Championship and the Naismith Hall of Fame on Thursday.

The UCLA athletic department said Moore was battling multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells that suppresses the body’s immune response, and died at her home in Fullerton, Calif., surrounded by family and friends.

“Billie Moore was a pioneer as a head coach and among a very small group of people who laid the foundation for where women’s basketball is today,” said Naismith Hall of Fame President and CEO John L. Doleva. “Her impact on the basketball community knows no bounds and will be missed by the entire Hall of Fame family.”

Moore, who coached UCLA from 1977 to 1993, holds the record for most wins (296) by a women’s basketball head coach in program history.

Prior to coaching UCLA, Moore was the head coach of the first ever US women’s Olympic basketball team in 1976. With players such as Pat Summitt, Ann Meyers Drysdale, Lusia Harris and Nancy Lieberman, Moore led Team USA to the silver medal at the Montréal Summer Games.

Moore, born in Westmoreland, Kansas, also led Cal State Fullerton to a national title in 1970. She was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999.

“One of the things that, when I got the call, that was most important in my mind was that I was going to be placed as a coach in a team sport,” he said at his dedication. “And when you’re in a team sport, you’re not here because of something you did yourself. It is obvious that this award is shared with many people who have played a very important role over the years and belongs to many people.”

She credited her father for giving her love and passion for the game. He told the audience that he’d hoped his career would not be based on wins and losses, but on lifelong friends she’d made on the court.

Overall, Moore compiled a collegiate record of 436-196 for a . 690 winning percentage.

Executive Director of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Danielle Donehew said Moore was a giant who paved the way for other female coaches.

“Most importantly, Billie was a teacher who continued to share her wisdom with former student-athletes and colleagues like Pat Summitt, her undergraduate, long after Billie retired as a coach,” he said.

“I met Billie while working for Pat and will always cherish her wisdom and humor. Billie’s impact on our sport lives on through the multitude of lives, including mine, that she has touched.

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