Drysdale Earns Gerald R. Ford Award from NCAA
Legendary UCLA Women's Basketball player, Ann Meyers Drysdale, has been named the 2022 recipient of the NCAA President's Gerald R. Ford Award, which is presented annually to an individual who has provided significant leadership as an advocate for college sports.
Drysdale is set to accept the award during the Saluting Excellence Luncheon at the 2022 NCAA Convention, currently scheduled for Friday, Jan. 21 in Indianapolis, Ind.
"I am overwhelmed and humbled in receiving the Gerald Ford Award from the NCAA," said Drysdale. "UCLA has been a huge part in my development as a student, an athlete, and the person I am today."
Named in recognition of Gerald Ford, the 38th U.S. president and a member of two University of Michigan national championship football teams, the award was established in 2004 by the late NCAA President Myles Brand. Legendary basketball broadcaster, Dick Vitale, earned the honor in 2020. Drysdale follows in the footsteps of a pair of legendary Bruins who received the honor in prior years. UCLA Track & Field and Women's Basketball superstar, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, earned the accolade in 2019 while Coach Wooden was designated for the honor in 2006.
"Ann Meyers Drysdale was a pioneer for women's athletics and continues to achieve excellence in her role as an analyst and executive at the professional level," NCAA President Mark Emmert said. "Her perseverance, work ethic and determination are admirable and an example for many."
Drysdale was one of the greatest players in UCLA Women's Basketball history after becoming the first woman to sign a four-year athletic scholarship with the university, finishing her career with 1,685 points, 819 rebounds, and 544 assists. She helped lead the Bruins to the AIAW National Championship in 1978 and, later that year, won the Broderick Award as the women's basketball player of the year and went on to win the prestigious Broderick Cup as the Collegiate Female Athlete of the Year in any sport. In 1979, she became the first woman to sign an NBA contract after signing with the Indiana Pacers.
"What an honor that Ann Meyers Drysdale would be given this incredible award," said The Michael Price Family UCLA Women's Head Basketball Coach Cori Close. "Just the company she keeps – that Coach Wooden and Jackie Joyner-Kersee have gotten it in the past speaks volumes of how meaningful it is. I, personally, want to thank Annie for her example, her support, her supportive texts; the list goes on and on about how amazing she's been. She's been an inspiration to me for years and this is a well-deserved award."
Drysdale was inducted into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame in 1988 and had her number, 15, retired in 1990. She was named one of UCLA Women's Basketball's 15 greatest players in 1998.
She went on to professionally for several years before trailblazing a career in basketball commentary, serving as a broadcast analyst for TNT, ESPN, CBS, and NBC. She was named General Manager of the Phoenix Mercury in 2006 and helped the team to WNBA titles in 2007, 2009, and 2014. She is currently a Vice President for the Mercury and a color commentator for Phoenix Suns broadcasts.
The Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Shooting Guard of the Year Award is named in Drysdale's honor.