- Baylor’s women’s basketball program has changed its name from “Lady Bears” to “simply the Bears.”
- The new moniker “creates consistency among Baylor teams,” the school said in a statement.
- Baylor’s name shift comes as newly-minted coach Nicki Collen embarks on her first season.
One of the premier programs in women’s college basketball will be going by a new name this season.
Baylor’s women’s basketball — the Big 12 powerhouse that has advanced to the Sweet 16 or beyond in each NCAA tournament since 2009 — has dropped the “Lady” from its longtime nickname to become “simply the Bears,” the school announced ahead of the 2021-2022 season.
“While the use of Lady Bears is still very much a part of the program’s decorated history, in an effort to be more consistent with the current nomenclature of the other 18 Baylor sport programs, the team will now be referred to as simply the Bears,” the statement read. “This evolution is unique in that it creates consistency among Baylor teams while also highlighting the individual sport and contributions of its athletes and coaches.”
Prior to the university’s announcement, Baylor was one of the few prominent NCAA Division-I schools that continued to differentiate between its men’s and women’s programs in such fashion — along with Tennessee’s “Lady Vols,” Oklahoma State’s “Cowgirls,” Georgia’s “Lady Bulldogs,” LSU’s “Lady Tigers,” Penn State’s “Lady Lions,” and USC’s “Women of Troy.”
And though Baylor’s softball team announced its name change in tandem with its basketball program, the school’s volleyball and women’s soccer teams had previously nixed the “Lady” title. Now, all of Baylor’s sports teams will be known as the Bears.
The shift marks a new era for Baylor’s women’s basketball program, which has seen other significant changes in recent months. In May, the school hired former Atlanta Dream head coach Nicki Collen to take over the team following the departure of longtime Baylor play caller Kim Mulkey, who left the program for LSU.
But even with a new name and a new coach, the Bears figure to continue their dominance in and beyond the Big 12. With a handful of highly-touted transfers and five returners at her disposal — including arguably the best player in all of women’s college basketball in 6-foot-2 forward NaLyssa Smith — Collen has an opportunity to avoid a rebuild and continue Mulkey’s long history of on-court success in Waco, Texas.