Fahey is entering her fifth season with the Illini. However, she’s already a member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame thanks to an illustrious 31-year head coaching tenure at Division III Washington University in St. Louis.
She began her college head coaching career in 1986 and has witnessed firsthand how women’s basketball has evolved, as well as its surrounding media coverage and exposure.
“It’s amazing I’m standing in front of you guys right now in an incredible facility,” said Fahey, who won four straight national titles and five overall at Wash U. “I was talking to somebody else (Thursday), and when I’m driving up with my players and they’re talking about the WNBA game or they’re talking about, ‘What is this going to be really like, coach? We don’t know what this is.’ Putting young women in this situation where they get an opportunity to talk about basketball, it’s created jobs, it’s created a future and, more importantly, what the game has given back (to women is) an opportunity to grow in places that we just didn’t really have.
“When I went through school it was, ‘Oh, you want to be a nurse or a teacher.’ … This game has really opened up doors.”
Michigan standout Naz Hillmon — who is the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year and set a single-game program record with 50 points against Ohio State last season — said she was proud to join the men’s program in Indianapolis. The Wolverines men’s and women’s teams reached the Elite Eight and Sweet Sixteen, respectively, last season.