The ODU Monarchs women's basketball team contributed to the initial rise in popularity of women's intercollegiate basketball in the United States in the 1970s. Women's college basketball was organized under the auspices of the AIAW in the early 1970s, at a time when competitive power was distributed among small colleges that had established a niche (such as Immaculata, Delta State, West Chester State, Wayland Baptist and Stephen F. Austin).
ODU won two AIAW national championships in 1979 and 1980 in dominating fashion with star players, Nancy Lieberman and Anne Donovan. Led by Medina Dixon and Tracy Claxton, ODU won the NCAA Division 1 championship in 1985, defeating the University of Georgia 70-65.
ODU along with UCLA and Tennessee, among others, led the rise to prominence of large schools with national reputations to the top intercollegiate level, before the NCAA began sponsoring sports for women.