SAN ANTONIO — The symbolism of Oklahoma’s appearance at the Final Four wasn’t lost on former Sooner Tamara Rogers.
Go back 20 years, when the Sooners’ program was disbanded for eight days after her senior season ended.
Future trips to the Women’s Final Four were a far-fetched pipe dream at that time.
But as the San Antonio doctor watched her old team practice Saturday in her adopted hometown, she couldn’t have been happier to see a new generation of Sooners following in her footsteps.
"I guess you say it was rather ironic that they are here,” Rogers said. "When I walked into the stadium and saw OU up on the billboard out there, it gave me a tremendous sense of pride. I can’t imagine how excited they are.”
The Sooners have become one of the nation’s most formidable women’s programs during the last decade under Sherri Coale. But to set them up to get there, players like Rogers showed the solidarity necessary to keep the program alive after it had been disbanded.
Rogers was the leading scorer for the Sooners’ 1989-90 team that struggled to a 7-22 record and averaged 65 fans a game. OU officials pulled the plug on the program after the season.
"I was walking from class when one of the underclassmen came up and told me they were shutting us down,” said Rogers, who was an all-Big Eight selection after leading the team in scoring and rebounding. "I couldn’t believe it when I heard it.”
She knew the abrupt decision wouldn’t stick – particularly considering the efforts of members of her team, parents, state legislators, attorneys threatening lawsuits and women’s basketball coaches across the country.
"She and all her teammates absolutely refused to let it happen,” Coale said. "They just weren’t going to go down without swinging. They fought and fought and fought and believed, and because of that, we’re able to do this now.