Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Retired, not retiring.(Personalities)

Byline: Rick Wright Journal Staff Writer

Champion of women's sports at UNM finds paradise and a new mission in Hawaii

From her new home in Koloa, a town of some 2,000 souls near the southern tip of Kauai, Linda Estes can be walking on the beach in fewer than five minutes.

Her proximity to the ocean is fitting in more ways than one.

Most obvious, perhaps, is the relentless-as-the-surf image that grew around Estes during her 31-year career as an athletic administrator at the University of New Mexico.

Liked and respected in some quarters, disliked and feared in others, Estes tirelessly pushed to further women's athletics during her tenure.

Brandishing Title IX, the 1972 federal legislation that forbids gender discrimination in schools, she helped increase UNM's women's annual athletic budget from $4,300 in '72-73 to almost $900,000 in '89-90. That was the academic year in which then-athletic director Gary Ness appointed Estes to oversee all Lobos sports except football and men's basketball.

This year, UNM's women's athletic budget is $2.96 million.

"Linda positioned women's athletics," says current UNM athletic director Rudy Davalos, who, unlike some of his predecessors, got along with Estes. "After I got here (in 1992), she was very helpful to me in taking women's athletics from where she had positioned it to where we are today: fully funded and supported. …

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