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OSU happy bar has been raised

by Berry Tramel Published: May 19, 2006
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Amy Weeks has been on all levels of collegiate athletics at Oklahoma State. Athlete. Head coach. Now associate athletic director.

When Weeks first met Sherri Coale in March 2005, Weeks had one message for the Sooner basketball coach.

Thank you.

Thank you for raising the bar, Weeks told Coale, and Weeks can say the same thing to OU softball coach Patty Gasso when their paths cross.

There are others who might not be so quick to feel kindly toward Coale and Gasso. Basketball coaches Dick Halterman and Julie Goodenough. Softball's Sandy Fischer and Margaret Rebenar.

Rebenar's resignation this week means another mount for the Coale/Gasso Trophy Room, which is fast running out of wall space. Four Cowgirl coaches have lost their jobs in the avalanche of Sooner success brought by Gasso and Coale.

That's not a bad thing for OSU. The increased pressure on coaches proves State is not content with mere scholarships and schedules. Those in power want to win.

"We have to do a better job of hiring coaches and attracting national-caliber coaches," said Weeks, OSU's senior women's administrator and formerly a Cowgirl golfer and coach. "I trust (athletic director) Mike Holder is going to do that. He is not about taking whoever he can get."

Unfortunately, some campuses still don't care about women's athletic excellence. They want to fulfill their NCAA and Title IX requirements, then check the football depth chart. But more and more schools are committed to first-rate facilities and programs and coaches for their athletes in all sports.

Truthfully, OSU was the former not so very long ago. Now it is the latter.

In 1995, Oklahoma hired Gasso to coach softball. A year later, the Sooners hired Coale to coach basketball.

At the time, the Cowgirls were the dominant women's athletic department. Halterman's basketball teams were consistent Big Eight contenders and frequent NCAA Tournament participants. Fischer's softball team routinely was in the Women's College World Series.

But the Sooners got serious about women's sports. OSU did not. In 2000, Gasso won the NCAA softball championship; in 2002, Coale coached the Sooners to the NCAA title game. Meanwhile, OSU facilities weathered and passion waned.

By then, ESPN was on board with women's sports, making the World Series and the NCAA Tournament constant showpieces of its long broadcasting arm.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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