The UCLA Athletic Department is pleased to announce a significant financial contribution from an anonymous donor to its Mo Ostin Basketball Center project. As part of this gift, the donor has respectfully requested to acknowledge the legacy and leadership of Bruin great Ann Meyers Drysdale by naming the UCLA Women's Basketball practice floor inside the program's new state-of-the-art facility in her honor – a request the Athletic Department is proud to honor. As such, moving forward, the women's practice floor inside the Mo Ostin Basketball Center will forever be known as Ann Meyers Drysdale Court.
"Time Magazine called Annie one of the ten greatest female athletes of all time," said Director of Athletics Dan Guerrero. "I know her as one of the ten greatest people of all time. Annie's spirit, kindness, willingness to help and smile belies the intense competitor she was once stepping onto the court. To see her across from you in Pauley Pavilion was demoralizing if you were her opponent, but emboldening if you were her teammate. No UCLA student-athlete is more deserving of this honor – some as deserving perhaps, but none more. Annie helped rewrite the history of American sport, and now, thanks to the generosity and vision this philanthropy provides, generations of women who step inside the Mo Ostin Basketball Center will understand that at UCLA, anything is possible."
Enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. as a player in 1993, Meyers Drysdale's basketball career, which began with her becoming the first high school player to make a United States National Team in 1974, is still going strong in what is now its fifth decade of groundbreaking accomplishment. Following high school, Meyers Drysdale embarked upon another series of firsts, becoming the first woman to receive a full athletic scholarship from UCLA, the first NCAA division player ever to record a quadruple-double, the first four-time Kodak All-American – male or female, the first female to be inducted into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame, and, with her husband, Dodger pitching great Don Drysdale, the first married couple to be inducted into their sports' Halls of Fame. In 2012, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association renamed its Women's National Player of the Year Award, the Ann Meyers Drysdale National Player of the Year Award, in honor of her impact on the sport.
"When Dan first gave me the news, I was quite literally at a loss for words," said Meyers Drysdale. "I wrote a letter a while back to UCLA fans as part of the Hoops For Youth program that I chair quoting this building's namesake, Mo Ostin, when he said, 'UCLA Basketball is more than an athletic program, it is an iconic and uniquely Los Angeles institution. It creates a sense of family, inspires an immense amount of pride and engenders a passionate following in ways this town rarely sees.' The generosity of this donation proves that no words could ring more true. Here I was writing about Mo, and now to be part of his building, wow. I already considered UCLA home, and the people that comprise it family, but this takes it to a level beyond what I ever thought was possible."
After capturing a silver medal at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal as a member of the U.S. women's basketball team, Meyers Drysdale helped lead the Bruins to the AIAW women's basketball national championship in 1978. Following her time in Westwood, Meyers Drysdale, who was the No. 1 draft pick in the Women's Professional Basketball League, became the first and only female ever to sign a free-agent contract with an NBA team, joining the Indiana Pacers in 1979. After being released by the Pacers in the preseason, she stayed with the organization to serve as a color commentator for its broadcasts and became the first woman to be on the call of an NBA game.
Meyers Drysdale, the mother of three and currently a Vice President of both the Phoenix Mercury and the Phoenix Suns, previously served five successful seasons as General Manager of the Mercury. She constructed the franchise's first two WNBA championship teams in 2007 and 2009 and was Vice President when the Mercury won its most recent title in 2014.
In addition to her current duties with the Mercury and Suns, Meyers Drysdale has remained active in sports broadcasting since her debut with the Pacers and is now in her fifth season with the Suns television broadcast team as an analyst on FOX Sports Arizona. Over the years, she has established herself as an expert analyst on ESPN, NBC, ABC, FOX Sports and CBS and has done commentary for men's and women's basketball, softball, tennis, volleyball and baseball since 1979. In 2006, she was honored with the United States Sports Academy's (USSA) Ronald Reagan Media Award and boasts a body of broadcasting work that also includes the 1984, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics.
"I am thrilled about this on so many levels," said UCLA women's head basketball coach Cori Close. "Annie is a trailblazer. She has set the bar at such a high level for us to chase after, and she's been a tremendous support to our program. To know we will have her legacy, one that is such a huge part of our program's story, represented in the Mo Ostin Center forever is incredibly meaningful to all the amazing women who have laid the foundation for our success and found inspiration in her accomplishments. It's also incredibly meaningful to me personally when I consider the impact she's had on my own life. This is a really special day, and I'm excited that we're going to relive it every time we get to step on the court thanks to the generosity and selflessness of this anonymous donor - two characteristics that also, fittingly, define Annie. Thank you to everyone who made this possible."
In spring 2014, the UCLA Athletic Department announced a campaign to raise private funds for a comprehensive new on-campus basketball training and performance facility that will house the men's and women's basketball programs. This gift joins, among others, the $10 million lead gift from legendary music industry executive and philanthropist Morris "Mo" Ostin for whom the building will be named.
Located near Pauley Pavilion at the south end of the Los Angeles Tennis Center, the planned state-of-the-art facility will include separate courts for both the men's and women's programs, locker rooms, athletic training areas, a strength and conditioning facility, coaches' offices, team meeting rooms, equipment rooms and video rooms among various amenities while incorporating several elements paying homage to the rich history of UCLA Basketball.
As of February 2017, the UCLA Athletic Department has now totaled in excess of $18 million in private funds towards the Mo Ostin Basketball Center, which broke ground this past August. UCLA Athletics is in the process of working to reach a total of $25 million in private funding before the project's anticipated completion in 2017.
Additional naming opportunities for the Mo Ostin Basketball Center remain. For more information or to become involved in the campaign at any philanthropic level, contact the UCLA Athletics Development Office at 310-206-3302, or visit UCLABasketballFacility.com.