Men, Women, and Hoops

By Gary Norris Gray
Updated: April 2, 2009


— Is it correct for men to be coaching women in the game of basketball? <

Geno Auriemma at the University of Connecticut has won five NCAA woman’s titles and on the verge of winning his sixth. He is the biggest name male head coach in the woman’s basketball scene.

Once again the Lady Huskies will be in the Final Four this year and will be playing the Stanford Cardinal Sunday night. This maybe his best team ever, better the Rebecca Lobo’s team, better then Sue Bird’s team, even better then Diana Taurasi team.

The Maya Moore team is the best University of Connecticut team ever and this weekend they will get a chance to prove it. But lets get back to the issue at hand.

Should men be head coaches of female basketball teams

This year, Auriemma will be only male head coach in this year’s Women’s Final Four in St. Louis. Before Title IX, before Auriemma, and before the NCAA included women, 40 years ago, it was females who coached women’s sports.

The first seven female basketball titles were won by female head coaches, Immaculata College of Pennsylvania with four, and DeltaState in Cleveland, Mississippi with three. Before the UCLA’s, USC’s, the Maryland’s, and the University of Tennessee took over the field.

Females were primarily physical education teachers 40 years ago, and their network was rooted in that profession. Then men started stepped in, and women had to fit into the male role model for the college coaching profession.

Most viewers of a woman’s basketball game can tell within minutes if that team is coached by a male or female. Most male coached teams play aggressive defense.

They shoot more three point shots. They try to win with brute force like the men’s college basketball team. Maya Moore is a classic example of this. Male coaches also use the tactic of game intimidation, something Auriemma is also very good at.

Geno has tried this tactic against C. Vivian Stringer’s Lady Knights of Rutgers, Pat Summitt and the University of Tennessee and with Stanford’s head coach Tara VanDerveer. This year, he has mellowed out and is not as confrontational.

Maybe being undefeated with 37 wins has helped.

It is interesting that Auriemma does not display this behavior when his team plays another woman’s team led by another male head coach. The teams headed by female coaches are more fundamentally sound basketball teams and they run front court plays with clarity. Female players play below the rim unlike their male counterparts who are flying Walendas above the rim.

This will change as females in the game get taller

With female coaches players position themselves better for rebounds and block-outs. Female players make clear passes to each other and limit the silly turnovers. They understand basic basketball skills rather then physical braun.

If you look at college head coaches, there are women in about 70% of the jobs. But if you look at high school, it’s about 70% men and in the professional level its almost 95% men.

The problem stems from the fact that women are not attracted to basketball coaching in the numbers or percentages that men are and the result has been that over the years, the pool of women candidates for high profile coaching jobs has not grown exponentially

There is only one single female head coach on any male basketball program in high school, college, or professional level. There are only three female coaches to 14 males last year in the WNBA.

There are a lot of female players that have said that “I don’t want to play for a woman.” They’d rather play for a man. Females are slowly reaping what we have sown as a society?

There is also the lesbian factor that most parents of young ladies worry about and high school and college administrator fears. A few years ago LouisianaStateUniversity had to deal with this hidden problem, head coach Pokey Chatman was a classic example of this kind of misconduct.

Her resignation made sports headlines with her alleged affair with one of her former players. Coach Chatman handled the issue with professionalism and grace, just as she played and coached the Lady Tigers.

A relationship with a player has also happen with male head coaches but it does not raise the same ire as if it were a female coach. This should never happen be it with a male or female head coach.

This issue of male coaches might become null and void in about ten years because most high school and college administrators and athletic directors will not hire male basketball coaches to replace the existing male coaches retiring.

The American society should keep Title IX in tact for the physical advancement of females in this country. As the military commercial states making one, “Army Strong”.

Should males be coaching female basketball players? You make your own decision.