Hall of Fame mourns MSU’s Dr. Mary Jo Wynn

Dr. Mary Jo Wynn during our unveiling of her bronze bust in April 2014. (Photo courtesy of News-Leader.)
Dr. Mary Jo Wynn during our unveiling of her bronze bust in April 2014. (Photo courtesy of News-Leader.)

The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame joins with the family of Dr. Mary Jo Wynn and the Missouri State University community in mourning the passing of Dr. Mary Jo Wynn.

Wynn passed away Tuesday in Springfield, it was announced by MSU and The Dr. Mary Jo Wynn Legacy Facebook page. The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame inducted the women’s sports trailblazer in 1999 and, in 2014, honored Wynn as a Missouri Sports Legend, with a bronze bust on the Legends Walkway.

Below is Wynn’s biography which appeared in our inaugural Women’s Sports Luncheon presented by the Bee-Payne Stewart Foundation on April 24, 2014:

Dr. Mary Jo Wynn retired in 1998 after 41 years at SMS, including nearly a quarter century as a senior athletics administrator.  Wynn was named the first SMS director of women’s athletics in 1975, concluding her career as senior associate director of athletics and senior woman administrator.

Wynn worked as a teacher and coach and helped make SMS a dominant member of the Gateway Collegiate Athletic Conference and Missouri Valley Conference after SMS moved to Division I in 1982.

In Division I during Wynn’s administrative tenure, SMS made seven NCAA appearances in basketball, four in softball and three in volleyball.  SMS won nine league tourney championships and eight regular season MVC titles.  A native of Hartville, Mo., and 1953 SMS graduate, Wynn organized women’s athletics competition in 1958 with volleyball and tennis teams. Her tenure saw the SMS women’s program grow to eleven sports.  Wynn coached volleyball until 1972, guiding the 1969 team to ninth in the first AIAW championship, and led the tennis program until her appointment as director of women’s athletics in 1975.  She also coached swimming and track.

Wynn played a major role from the days SMS women’s teams operated from within the physical education department to the time SMS became a charter member of the AIAW and then moved to the NCAA in 1982.  Wynn was instrumental in the formation of the Gateway Conference the same year, with those 10 schools moving to the MVC in 1992 to put SMS men’s and women’s teams in the same conference for the first time.  SMS was an AIAW power, winning 18 state championships, 14 regional crowns and two national titles from 1974 to 1980.  Kay Hunter’s 1974 softball team brought SMS its first national women’s title, and Rhonda Ridinger’s field hockey team won the AIAW Division II crown in 1979 and was national runner-up in 1980.

Linda Dollar’s volleyball squads made 10 AIAW national tourney appearances, finishing fifth in 1981, and Chic Johnson’s gymnastics team placed second in the nation in 1976, third in 1978 and fifth in 1979.

In addition to its team success since 1982, the university has produced six women’s All-Americans and 14 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans.  The university has hosted Division I competition in basketball and volleyball and league competition in eight sports.

In 1985, Wynn started a support group for women’s athletics, helping SMS lead the nation in women’s basketball attendance in 1992-93 and rank in the top 10 each of the last seven years.  Wynn organized the SMS Women’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 1981.  She received an Outstanding Alumni Award from SMS in 1995 and was inducted into the Springfield Area Sports Hall of Fame in 1996.