Caitlin Clark Hopes Hoosier Fans Move Past Rivalry: ‘I Hated Playing at Indiana and They Hated Me’

Caitlin Clark had a rivalry with Indiana during her college days at Iowa. But now that she’s been drafted No. 1 overall by the Indiana Fever, she hopes Hoosier fans can root for her.

Attendance has dramatically increased for the Indiana women’s basketball team as coach Teri Moren has taken the program to new heights.

Indiana had its first-ever sellout crowd during the 2023 season finale against Purdue, and fans regularly pack Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall for women’s basketball games now. Indiana ranked second in the Big Ten and fifth nationally in total attendance for women’s basketball during the 2023-24 season.

Perhaps the most raucous environment this past season was on Feb. 22, 2024, when Caitlin Clark led the No. 2 Iowa Hawkeyes into Assembly Hall to face No. 14 Indiana. Hoosier fans lined up outside hours before the game, dressed accordingly for a whiteout.

Roars rained down from the stands after baskets from Sara Scalia and Mackenzie Holmes, who combined for 49 points in the 86-69 Indiana win. Hoosier fans seemed almost as excited to see Clark miss a shot – she went 8-for-26, her third-lowest field goal percentage of the season – or commit one of her five turnovers.

Two months earlier, the Indiana Fever won the 2024 WNBA Draft lottery to get the No. 1 overall pick in April. Clark clearly would be the top pick if she decided to forgo her final year of collegiate eligibility and turn pro. But not all Fever fans felt great about that.

When Indiana hosted Iowa in February, one Hoosier fan held a sign that said, “Lin, we don’t want her!”


Indiana fans hold signs referring to Iowa and Caitlin Clark at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

That was a message to Lin Dunn, the general manager of the Fever, about Clark, who irritated some Indiana fans after years of battling Iowa for Big Ten titles.

A fierce competitor, Clark had a similar sentiment that she shared Wednesday at her introductory press conference with the Fever.

“I hated playing at Indiana and they hated me,” Clark said. “So hopefully a lot of them turn into Indiana Fever fans. They hated me for good reason. It’s a hard place to win at.”

Clark recalls Iowa had a game during the WNBA Draft lottery and she couldn’t watch it live. But despite the rivalry with Hoosier fans, she said the Fever picking No. 1 overall was on her mind as a top destination that night.

“I was hoping Indiana would get the first pick,” Clark said. “It would have made my life a lot better. When I saw that, I was pretty excited.”

Clark said she was ready for a new challenge after reaching the national championship in back-to-back seasons at Iowa. And being from West Des Moines, Iowa, she couldn’t script it any better to stay in the Midwest and play for the Fever.

Now she teams up with former Indiana Hoosier Grace Berger, who was taken No. 7 overall in the 2023 WNBA Draft by the Fever, and Aaliyah Boston, the No. 1 pick that year. For Clark, the talent around her, combined with a dedicated fan base, makes for a perfect fit.

“I can’t think of a better place for myself to start my career,” Clark said. “A place that loves basketball, supports women’s basketball and an organization that really does things the right way and has a championship pedigree.”

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