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Statue of ODU legend Nancy Lieberman coming to school’s campus

PUBLISHED October 7, 2022 | News

Since the late 1970s, Nancy Lieberman’s influence has been visible around Old Dominion.

Soon, there will be tangible proof — a statue of her is coming to the university.

ODU announced Friday that it will unveil a 6-foot bronze statue of the former basketball All-American, who has been one of the best-known figures in women’s sports for four decades. The revealing of the statue, atop a 2-foot base, will take place at 9 a.m. Nov. 5 between the Mitchum Basketball Performance Center and Chartway Arena. ESPN sportscaster Jay Harris, an ODU graduate, will be the master of ceremonies.

Lieberman’s friend Brian Hanlon is crafting the statue and donating it to the university. ODU said it’s valued at $125,000.

“Brian Hanlon is the one who made this happen,” Lieberman said on odusports.com. “He said there has to be a statue of me at Old Dominion. I’m so honored. He’s done this for so many other great athletes.”

Among them: legendary running back Jim Brown and basketball player Shaquille O’Neal. Lieberman said this one will be about ODU competitors in general.

According to ODU spokesman Harry Minium, the only other statue on campus is a bronze likeness of mascot Big Blue in the Webb Student Center.

Also, a portion of 43rd Street, from Hampton Boulevard to Monarch Way, will be named “Nancy Lieberman Pass.” The school said Kenny Alexander, an ODU graduate who is Norfolk’s mayor, worked with Norfolk officials to get the signs approved.

The dedication will come one day after Lieberman and Pepsi Stronger Together, PepsiCo’s series of grassroots initiatives for communities, dedicate a “Dream Court” at the East Ocean View Recreation Center in Norfolk. It will be the third Dream Court in Hampton Roads.

The court is expected to include on outdoor regulation-size basketball court, new basketballs, and programs and mentorship regarding civic engagement, inclusion and social justice.

Lieberman has compiled numerous honors and firsts. She made the U.S. national team at 17, helped turn ODU into a women’s basketball powerhouse and was the first person to twice earn the Wade Trophy, symbolic of being the nation’s top player.

Lieberman scored 2,430 ODU points and grabbed 1,167 rebounds. In 134 games, she averaged 18.1 points, 8.7 assists and 3.8 steals. In both of her Wade Trophy seasons, 1978-79 and 1979-80, ODU took AIAW national championships.

She played in the WNBA at age 50, coached the NBA G League’s Texas Legends and was an NBA assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings. In 2018, she coached her Big3 team to a league championship.

She also has done plenty of TV and radio commentary. She is now an analyst on the Oklahoma City Thunder’s pregame and postgame TV shows.

On odusports.com, Monarchs athletic director Wood Selig said he sees “what her legacy has meant not just to ODU, but to women’s athletes across the country and across the globe. She was a pioneer in women’s athletics. She has established an athletic legacy that few, male or female, will ever come close to achieving. The fact that she’s one of us deserves celebration and lasting recognition.”

“That statue isn’t for me; it’s for every athlete who’s ever put on a uniform, either for a men’s or women’s team,” Lieberman said on odusports.com.

Lieberman praised Selig and former athletic director Jim Jarrett, who was a pioneer in raising the profile of women’s sports.

“I want this to be a greater celebration for Title IX and for all of the great people who’ve been in my life,” she added. “You get a statue not for what you did, but for what people did collectively.”