Kit Saunders, the first director of women’s athletics at UW-Madison, dies at 80

Katherine (Kit) Saunders Nordeen

MADISON, Wis. — Kit Saunders-Nordeen, the first director of women’s athletics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, died on Jan. 1 after battling with Alzheimer’s for several years. She was 80.

Saunders-Nordeen pioneered women’s athletics at the University of Wisconsin in the 1960s and ’70s and fought for equal opportunities for women athletes in the years following the passage of Title IX.

Five years after being named named UW-Madison’s first director of intercollegiate athletics for women, Saunders-Nordeen was elected Division I vice-president of the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women. According to her obituary, she won numerous awards for her efforts and inspired student athletes both male and female. She retired in 1990 as Associate Athletic Director.

While her memory and capabilities declined as the Alzheimer’s progressed, Saunders-Nordeen continued living in the moment, enjoying her husband’s visits every day and holding his hand, her obituary said.

More about Saunders-Nordeen’s life and accomplishments can be found in her Madison Magazine profile and obituary.