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Nancy Darsch, Champion Coach of Women’s Basketball, Dies at 68

  • November 21, 2020

In her 12 years at Ohio State, her teams won four Big Ten titles, made seven N.C.A.A. tournament appearances and played in one championship game, in 1993, when the No. 3 Buckeyes lost to No. 5 Texas Tech, 84-82. It was the first time a Big Ten women’s team had made it to the N.C.A.A. championship.

Under Darsch, the Ohio State women had their first televised game, on ESPN in 1990. She brought in one of the first full-time strength coaches for a college women’s team as well as a sports psychologist, an emerging concept at the time.

In 1991-92, Ohio State recruited the top freshman class in the country, signing Katie Smith, who would be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., in 2018. In the 1993-94 season, the Buckeyes led the country in attendance for women’s collegiate basketball games.

Darsch was also host of “The Nancy Darsch Show” on local television, on which she talked basketball with guests. Having one’s own show was a rarity for female coaches at the time.

She accomplished another milestone in 1994, when she became the first coach of an Ohio State women’s team to receive a multiyear contract — a breakthrough at a time when most women’s coaches worked year to year.

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