Once a Big Ten Athlete, Always a Big Ten Athlete

March 1, 2007

Through out the 2006-07 season, the Big Ten Conference has been celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Big Ten Women's Championships. One of the most telling examples of the impact the conference's commitment to female athletic programs is the student-athletes who go on to carry on the tradition as coaches and mentors.

Two of them took the court today: Wisconsin's Lisa Stone and Northwestern's Beth Combs.

A three-time captain at Iowa in the early 1980s, Stone led the Badgers past Michigan in game one. Nearly 23 years after her playing career, the Badger mentor remains tied for sixth on Iowa's career steals chart with 177 shares the Hawkeye record for steals in a game (nine). She also ranks seventh in career assists (322) and 23rd in career rebounds (331). In 1984, she won the Big Ten Medal of Honor recognizing her as one of the top scholar-athletes in the conference.

Stone will face another former Big Ten former player in Purdue's Sharon Versyp (1984-88).

Versyp returned to her alma mater this season after one year at the helm of the Indiana Hoosiers. Nearly two decades since her heydays on the hardwood, she stills holds top 10 all-time rankings in points (9th), points per game (7th), field goals made (7th), field goals attempted (5th), free throw percentage (5th), assists (7th), steals (10th), double-figure scoring games (6th), and minutes played (5th).

An Academic All-American her senior season, Versyp was coached by Lin Dunn, one of the former Big Ten sideline tutors responsible for starting the modern day Big Ten Tournament.

A former Illini (1987-89), Combs led the Wildcats against the Gophers in game two. Although she did not emerge victorious this time around, Combs has had a profound impact on the Northwestern women's basketball community. This year, the program was able to nearly double attendance for its eight conference home games and won the Big Ten SuperFan Cup.

For more on former Big Ten student-athletes who are making their mark on the sidelines, check here.