Busting Brackets

Caitlin Clark didn’t win a national title, but she’s still a champion

Apr 7, 2024; Cleveland, OH, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark (22) dribbles the ball up the court.
Apr 7, 2024; Cleveland, OH, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark (22) dribbles the ball up the court. / Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past four years, Caitlin Clark has become a household name and she has helped make women’s collegiate basketball a household staple.

Clark’s on-court prowess and off-court personality have captured the hearts of people across the nation. She has converted nonbelievers into women’s basketball fans and pre-existing fans into die-hard supporters of the Iowa Hawkeyes.

While Clark and the Hawkeyes fell just short of bringing home the national title to Iowa City, she is a champion of the sport through and through.

Caitlin Clark’s record book

  • NCAA Division I all-time leading scorer
  • NCAA single-season record for made three-pointers
  • Most single-season points in DI women’s history
  • Back-to-back Naismith Player of the Year
  • Back-to-back AP Player of the Year
  • Most points in a single quarter of NCAA championship game
  • Most career points in the NCAA Tournament
  • Big Ten’s all-time leading scorer
  • Iowa’s all-time leading scorer
  • Big Ten’s all-time leader in assists
  • Iowa’s all-time leader in assists
  • Big Ten leader in made three-pointers
  • 3x Big Ten Tournament champion
  • 3x Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Player

And the list doesn’t end there.

While Clark was playing for Lisa Bluder, she set countless records while also leading the team to a 109-30 overall record.

Beyond the game-by-game results, Clark was unstoppable on the court. She is the all-time leading scorer in both men’s and women’s NCAA basketball with 3,921 career points – a mark that many thought was untouchable after Pete Maravich set it in 1970.

Clark did even more than just win games and set records, she brought well-deserved and past-due attention to women’s college basketball. She brought the sport fame that has been lacking for far too long.

Clark’s NIL deals – including StateFarm, Nike, Gatorade, and more – surpassed $3 million in value during her senior year. She was the fourth highest-paid college athlete in 2023-24.

The attention that Clark’s game brought to the sport is unmatched.

When Clark and the Hawkeyes took on the LSU Tigers in the 2024 Elite Eight, 12.3 million people tuned into the ESPN broadcast. That’s more viewers than:

  • Every women's college basketball game ever
  • Every ESPN college basketball game ever
  • Every MLB game last season
  • Every NHL game last season
  • Every MLS game last season
  • Every NBA game last season except one
  • Every CFB regular season game last season except one

The Hawkeyes’ game against UConn in the Final Four garnered 14.2 million viewers on ESPN, the audience peaking at 17 million people.

For the national championship game against South Carolina (despite the Hawkeyes losing) 18.7 million people tuned in to see Clark go to work.

"I want to personally thank Caitlin Clark for lifting up our sport.," South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley said. "She carried a heavy load for our sport... She's gonna lift that league [WNBA] up... You are one of the GOATs of our game."

Caitlin Clark
NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament - National Championship / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

Throughout Clark’s career, she has been well-spoken and outspoken about what she wants to be remembered for, and it isn’t for her record-setting habits.

“I think they’re gonna remember the moments they shared at one of our games,” Clark said. “Or how excited their young daughter or son got watching women’s basketball… those are the things that mean the most to me.”

Clark gets it. She gets how to handle the pressure and the fame. She gets how to bring the right kind of attention to the sport. She gets how to give the women’s game the platform it deserves.

Clark also has it. She has the court vision to find the seemingly impossible pass. She has the guts to pull up from the logo and nail the shot like it’s nothing. She has the quickness to snatch a ball out of an opponent’s hand like it was never there in the first place.

Caitlin Clark – one of if not the goat. She has inspired the next generation of young people to follow their dreams. She has shown them that those dreams really can become a reality.

Following the conclusion of the women’s title game, ESPN released a report from the NCAA that it would aim to make the women’s NCAA Tournament more equitable to the men’s tourney next season.

As the 2023-24 regular season came to a close, Clark announced that she would be declaring for the WNBA Draft after the postseason, she is expected to be the No. 1 overall pick.

Clark will go on to have an undeniably great career in the WNBA. She will no doubt set more records, score more points, and win more games. And maybe, just maybe, she will find that national title she is still searching for.

While Clark never won the NCAA Tournament championship game, she is a champion in the eyes of so many people and is truly a champion for the sport of women’s basketball.

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