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“What was different? About 9,000 people in the stands,” Krauskopf said. “At Stephen F. Austin, we’d come out every night to about 8,000 people. When I transferred, I went from 8,000 to about 50.”

By the mid-1980s, things were starting to change.

Then-coach Lynn Hickey, who also served the women’s athletic director, finally had enough money to hire Krauskopf as an assistant athletic director.

And when a school rep from rival Texas called looking for tickets to the game in College Station in 1986, Krauskopf bought a roll of admission tickets that looked like they came from the county fair. She charged the Longhorns $5 apiece.

It was the first time the school had ever sold tickets to a women’s game.

“When I was there, I thought Notre Dame was ahead of Texas A&M in women’s athletics,” former Notre Dame football coach Bob Davie said. He spent nine years at Texas A&M as an assistant and said the battle of the sexes was over by the time he got to College Station in 1985.

“A&M was just starting to build its facilities and I felt there was a little more emphasis on women’s sports at Notre Dame,” Davie added. “The emphasis on women’s athletics just wasn’t as prevalent then as it is now.”

The women’s basketball program was also moving forward.

By 1994, it had earned its first NCAA tournament bid and immediately reached the regional semifinals, but the program’s reputation remained the same _ until coach Gary Blair arrived in 2003.

The man with the sharp tongue, quick wit and deep Southern drawl found himself at home recruiting Texas’ best players, and teaming up with others in the athletic department to sell the school.

Blair and then men’s coach Billy Gillispie helped raise $24 million in private funds to build a new practice facility and it made a difference in the results, too.

A&M has now made a school record six straight NCAA appearances, and nothing can compare to this season.

The Aggies have won a school record 32 games, finally got past league rival Baylor to reach their first Final Four and are now on the cusp of winning a national title that has made alums like Krauskopf proud of what their program has become.

“When I was a student-athlete there, we would get old Aggies to come up and say ‘I really like watching your team, and I was one of those people who was against this women’s thing,’” Krauskopf said. “Now when I look back on that, it does hit me. It’s like ‘Wow, we’re really breaking new ground, especially at a school that was all military and all male.”

School President Bowen Loftin said the women’s program was among the worst before Blair arrived.

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