Bailey Moore — the head coach of the first U.S. women’s Olympic basketball team, the first coach to lead two schools to national championships in women’s basketball and a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame — died Wednesday at the age of 79.
Her death was announced by UCLA, where she led the Bruins to an Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Women’s National Championship in 1978 and Naismith Hall of Famer, Thursday.
The athletics department at the University of California, Los Angeles, said Moore was battling multiple myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells that suppresses the body’s immune response, and died at her home in Fullerton, California, surrounded by family and friends.
“Billy Moore was a pioneer as a head coach and among a very small group of individuals 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 knew no bounds, and she 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 coach in program history.
Prior to coaching at UCLA, Moore was the head coach of the first US Olympic women’s basketball team in 1976. With players like Pat Summitt, Ann Myers Drysdale, Luzia Harris, and Nancy Lieberman, Moore led Team USA to a silver medal at the Summer Games in Montreal.
Moore, who was 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, was on my mind above all else was that I was being recruited as a coach in a team sport,” she said in her tribute. “And when you’re in a team sport, you’re not here because of something you did yourself. Obviously, this award is shared with a lot of people who’ve played a very important role over the years and it belongs to a lot of people.”
She credited her father for giving her love and passion for the game. She told the audience that she had hoped her career would not be built on wins and losses but on the lifelong friends she made on the court.
Overall, Moore has compiled a collegiate record of 436-196 for a 0.690 winning percentage.
Executive Director of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Danielle Donyo said Moore was a giant who paved the way for other female coaches.
“Most importantly, Bailey was a teacher who continued to share her wisdom with former student-athletes and colleagues like Pat Summitt, her student, long after Bailey retired as a coach,” she said.
“I met Billy while working for Pat and will forever cherish her wisdom and sense of humor. I have been touched by Billy’s influence on our sport through many lives, including mine.”
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