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Woodard Took Longer Road to Reach Hall of Fame
NEW YORK, NY — Former Kansas scoring star Lynette Woodard finally was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame (June 2005). She was recently inducted alongside Phoenix Suns chairman Jerry Colangelo, former Los Angeles Lakers coach Bill Sharman, former NBA players Clyde Drexler and Maurice Stokes, and former international player Drazen Dalipagic of Yugoslavia.
Woodard’s delay was by her own choosing. She would have been inducted already had she not decided to come out of retirement and play in the WNBA in 1997, its first season. She retired a year later.
Players must be retired five years from active competition before they can be considered for the Hall of Fame.
Woodard, who holds the all-time collegiate scoring record with 3,649 points, was a stockbroker in New York before she decided to trade in her business suit for a Cleveland Rockers basketball uniform. “I have no regrets,” Woodard said about her two seasons in the WNBA, which included a stint with the Detroit Shock in 1998.
In November, Woodard is expected to be selected for the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn. Her college coach, Marian E. Washington, was inducted in June.
Woodard, an engaging personality who usually wears a bright smile, became interim coach for several months at her alma mater in late January when Washington took a medical leave.
However, former Virginia Tech coach Bonnie Henrickson was given the permanent job in March when Washington retired. “I wanted to give that a shot,” Woodard said about a desire to continue with the Jayhawks, where she had returned as an assistant in 1999.
For now, she is back in the business world as a financial consultant for the A.G. Edwards investment firm.
Woodard holds Kansas records for field goals, field-goal attempts, rebounds, foul shots, attempted foul shots, steals and games played. “I loved every facet of the game,” Woodard said.
Few women’s role models existed in basketball when Woodard was in her formative years. “I was whoever my brother wanted me to be that day,” she recalled of her days in Wichita, Kan.
“I was Austin Carr, Lew Alcindor, Sidney Wicks – some of those names are probably strange today,” Woodard said with a laugh.
Woodard’s collegiate career came at a time when the three-point shot didn’t exist and before the NCAA began sponsoring women’s events, which occurred the season after her graduation in 1981.
Outside the Midwest, few knew of Woodard’s feats. National coverage of the sport was still limited, and her arrival in Lawrence occurred a year before ESPN was born.
However, as a senior in 1981, Woodard received the Wade Trophy, which went to the nation’s top female player.
“She was ahead of her time,” New York Liberty assistant coach Marianne Stanley recalled. Stanley coached Old Dominion against Woodard in 1979.
“She was so gifted. But what’s really important is, the way people talk today about Diana Taurasi, Woodard was also a great ambassador of the game,” Stanley said. “She was a class act, on and off the court. I’m excited for her to get the Hall of Fame recognition.”
Woodard eventually gained national notoriety, especially in 1985 when she beat 25 other aspirants to become the first female member of the Harlem Globetrotters.
Last night was actually her second trip to the podium in Springfield, because the Globetrotters were honored as a team several years ago.
Woodard also drew attention when Kansas was invited to play in a women’s collegiate tournament in New York.
“People used to tell me you have to go to a school on one of the coasts to get noticed,” Woodard said. “So I’m glad I got that opportunity to be seen in New York.”
Woodard was named to the 1980 Olympic team, which did not get a chance to compete in Moscow because of the United States boycott. She won an Olympic gold medal in 1984.