Kentucky State University, Women's Basketball, 1981 NAIA Champion
The Kentucky State University women's basketball team won the first NAIA Women's Basketball Title in 1981. The team defeated Texas Southern 73-67 for the championship in Kansas City, MO. Before the championship series, and at the end of the regular season, the Kentucky State team was ranked 7th among the 8 teams in the tournament; the Thorobreds had a pre-tournament record of 15-7 and an overall record of 21-7. The team members included Carolyn Walker, a 5'7" senior who was the tournament's most valuable player and was named First Team All-Tournament; she averaged 20 points and five rebounds per game during the regular season. Pam King, center, was a sophomore who stood 5'11"; she was named Second Team All-Tournament. Angelia Barnett, a freshman, was a forward standing 5'10"; she was named Second Team All-Tournament. Other team members included Paula Jennels, Felicia Jordan, Darlene Brown, and Rhonda Beauford. The team was initially coached by Cornieth Y. Russell, then replaced by Ron Mitchell, who was also the school's athletic director; he became the interim coach midway through the regular season after the head coach was removed. He was named NAIA Coach of the Year after the tournament.
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Women's Basketball Tournament was established in 1981. To date, the 1981 win by the Kentucky State University Thorobreds is the team's only NAIA championship. KSC was the first HBCU (Historically Black College and University) and, so far, only HBCU to win an NAIA women’s basketball national championship. They were also the first women’s college basketball team in Kentucky to win a national championship [the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament did not start until 1982].
For more see "Kentucky State women win NAIA basketball crown," Jet, 04/09/1981, p. 52; NAIA website; NAIA Division I Women's Basketball Championship Records; E. Patton, "Reflecting on the past: KSU's 1981 women's NAIA championship team to be honored," State Journal (Frankfort, KY), 03/13/2013, reprinted in BSTM [Black Sports The Magazine] Special Edition, May 2013, vol. 5, pp. 4-5 [online .pdf]; and Kentucky State University website about the 1981 team’s recognition.