Pat Newman, the first women’s tennis coach in LSU history and a trailblazer for the women’s athletics programs at LSU, passed away over the weekend at the age of 81.
Newman served as the head women’s tennis coach from 1973 to 1979, leading the then Ben-Gals to a top 10 ranking by 1977, the year LSU hosted the first AIAW national tennis championships.
In 1977, she was also named Coordinator of Women’s Athletics and in 1980 relinquished her coaching duties to devote full-time attention to that post when she was named Assistant Athletics Director. During her time as the Coordinator of Women’s Athletics, she oversaw 10 sports and helped direct basketball, tennis, gymnastics to national prominence.
Newman capped her coaching career with a 71-24 mark and led her teams to three straight Louisiana AIAW Championships. She coached the first two singles All-America tennis players in LSU history in Kay McDaniel and Ebie Taylor.
Her 1978 tennis team posted a 19-5 mark and finished 10th in the AIAW National Championships.
“In the year that we celebrate the 50th year of Title IX and the 40th year of women’s sports joining the NCAA, it is appropriate that we also celebrate a true trailblazer for women’s sports at LSU – Pat Newman,” LSU Hall of Fame coach D-D Breaux said.
“Pat not only opened the door for so many of us but she held it open, sometimes at great personal cost. There was no task too small for Pat; she did anything and everything that was needed for LSU to have successful women’s sports programs. She was a mentor to young coaches on the staff and made sure each of us understood what needed to be done in order to be successful.. I will forever be grateful to Pat Newman for the lessons, her courageous leadership and all that she did to advance women’s athletics at LSU.”
As Assistant AD for Athletics Director Paul Dietzel, she was instrumental in bringing the 1980 national championships in both gymnastics and tennis to the Baton Rouge campus, as well as the Region IV basketball and tennis tournaments. LSU also hosted one of the early SEC women’s basketball tournaments and the AIAW regional volleyball championships at the then LSU Assembly Center.
Newman graduated from Gibsland High School in Gibsland, Louisiana in 1957 and was an all-state basketball selection for three years. At Louisiana Tech, she lettered three years on the school’s rifle team. She graduated with her bachelor degree in 1961 and recorded her masters in education from LSU in 1971.
She served as a public relations expert for the Boys Club of America before coming to LSU as a counselor for freshmen women in 1964. She became a staff intern in the Chancellor’s office and served one ear as the Title IX coordinator.