Immaculata University and its alumni and friends are commemorating the 40th anniversary of the first Mighty Macs national college women's basketball championship on March 19.
The Mighty Macs team members and their coach, Cathy Rush, won the first three U.S. national women's college basketball championships in 1972, 1973, and 1974. They played the University of Maryland in the first nationally televised women's basketball game in 1974, and they earned Immaculata the title of the birthplace of modern college women's basketball.
The teams produced several NCAA Division I head women's basketball coaches, including Theresa Shank Grentz, an All-American player who went on to become the head coach for the 1992 U.S. Olympic Women's Basketball team, and president of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA).
Also from the player's roster of All-American Mighty Macs is Marianne Crawford Stanley. Stanley won three national championships as head women's basketball coach at Old Dominion. She is now a coach with the WNBA Washington Mystics.
Another coaching standout is Rene Muth Portland. She is the former head women's basketball coach at Penn State. Her career resume includes 21 NCAA tournament appearances including a Final Four appearance played in Philadelphia in 2000.
Mighty Macs coach Cathy Rush was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008. Her record at Immaculata was 149-15. She also had six Final Four appearances from her 1970-1977 coaching tenure with the Mighty Macs.
Through all of these achievements, the Mighty Macs significantly raised the profile of women's sports, capturing national attention and inspiring younger generations to compete and win in their games.
To celebrate these accomplishments and the release of The Mighty Macs, a movie starring Carla Gugino, David Boreanaz, and Academy Award winner Ellen Burstyn, Immaculata University has observed the year of the Mighty Macs in 2011-2012, 40 years after the first championship season. As part of the festivities, Immaculata created a commemorative website, www.yearofthemightymacs.com; held a black tie gala at The Franklin Institute; organized a movie premiere at the Kimmel Center; and hosted a DVD release party at the Independence Seaport Museum.