Still Have A Long Way To Go

By Gary Norris Gray BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: May 11, 2011

OAKLAND, CA.Last weekend was Mother’s Day. In the basketball world African American females are still having a difficult time acquiring head coaching jobs. With the expansion of the NCAA basketball programs, the WNBA, and the European Leagues there should be more African American female coach’s walking the sidelines of colleges and professional basketball floors.

History was made in 2010 in Washington D.C. when Natalie Randolph became the first Black Female to head a male high school football team at Calvin Coolidge Senior High School. There are still women that want to coach basketball that have not been given a chance.

History was made when Bernadette Lock was named assistant coach to the University of Kentucky Wildcat men’s basketball program in 1990. Lock later move on to become the head coach of the Kentucky women’s program 1995-2003.

Bernadette Lock

Bernadette Lock

History was made in the Ivy League as Traci Green becomes the first black female coach of Harvard’s tennis team.

Traci Green

Traci Green

These are unique situations where Black females are excelling, however, the focus should be on their basketball programs.

Statistics reveal that African American women have to continue the fight to be hired as coaches.

Less than 35% of all high school athletes are women

Less than 34% of all college athletes are women

Male athletes receive $179 million more in athletic scholarships each year than their female counterparts

Collegiate institutions spend 24% of the athletic operating budgets, 16% of their recruiting budgets and 33% of the scholarship budgets on female athletes

Less than 1% of all coaches of men’s teams and less than 46% of all coaches of women’s teams are female. These are 1999 statistics.

Overall, the percentage of black athletics administrators (excluding HBCUs) increased slightly in 2008-09 – by 1.1 percent for black male administrators (not counting administrative assistants) and by 1.2 percent for black female administrators (also not counting administrative assistants) – since 1995-96.

In 1995-96, there were 13 minority male head men’s basketball coaches, six minority male head women’s basketball coaches and nine minority female head women’s basketball coaches. And there are 334 division one programs. This is not counting the HBCU’s.

Let’s go back in time when the game was played half court. Defenders stayed on one side of the court while the offenisive players played on the other side. Players could not cross the mid strip

African women basketball teams were in existance with The New York Girls 1910-1914 and ended with the Chocolate Coeds in 1935-1940. World War II ended the Black Female Leagues but HBCU’s kept the game alive.

Women’s basketball did not return as a national pastime until a little women’s Catholic College in mid-eastern Pennsylvanna built a powerhouse, with Cathy Rush as head coach. The beginning of the 1970’s Immaculata College, now University Mighty Macs won the first three (AIWA) Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women national college titles 1972-74. My sister (center Deniece E Gray ) was an intricagal part of this basketball machine.

Then Delta State- Mississippi took the next three AIAW national titles 75-78 with big center Lucy Harris . These events changed college women basketball. Big strong centers like the men would dominate the sport in the next decade.

The Louisana Tech Lady Techsters, Old Dominion Lady Monarchs and the University of Tennessee Lady Vols took over the national spotlight.

Then the NCAA took over and young females would play the game they love all over the country.

Small schools like Delta State, Immaculata University, La. Tech, and ODU have never come close to the national title since.

In this years NCAA March Madness playoffs only five African American coaches stood on the sidelines and two of them came from (HCBU) Historicly Black Colleges and Universities. This does not bode well for the NCAA.

(1) athletic directors, 85 percent of whom are white men, tend to hire from their group of associates, which typically includes few black females;

(2) the growth of the women’s game has made coaching jobs more lucrative and attractive, drawing increasing interest for male coaches, black and white;

(3) while participation numbers are up 6 percent from ten years ago. The number of black women playing college basketball has traditionally been low, meaning the pool of former players taking an interest in coaching is not deep. In 2011 the numbers are slowly changing.

Marian E Washington

Marian E Washington

Marian E. Washington can be called the modern mother of Black female basketball coaches. At the University of Kansas for 31 seasons had a 560-363 record 11 NCAA Tournament births and the Sweet 16 twice the first African American to do so. Washington had 17- 20 win seasons, seven league titles, and six conference championships. She has so many first the list is endless. Ms. Washington was the first African American to coach an American Olympic Team. The first to serve as president of the Black Coaches Association. The first of two African American Women to represent the United States in international competition in the 1971 World Games in Brazil. She served as the one and only Athletic Director for Women’s athletics at the University of Kansas. Kansas merged the two programs in the early 1980’s. Marian E Washington a name very few know because her teams played in the Mid-west.

C.Vivian Stringer – Head coach of Rutgers can be called the 2nd mother of the women’s basketball coaching fraterinity or sorority and is the only woman to lead three different teams to the Final Four. Iowa, Cheney State, and Rutgers. She has the highest number of wins by a black female coach 600 plus. She instills pride and poise in all of her players. With all of her family tragedies she still preforms with her leadership skills on the floor. Ms. Stringer has won both the Big Ten Coach of the Year and the Big East Coach of the Year. She has won National Coach of the Year three times. Sports Illustrated, USA Today, and the Los Angeles Times named her Coach of the Year. The Black Coaches Assocation and the Rainbow/PUSH organization have also given Ms. Stringer this Award in 2000.

Carrolyn Peck coached Purdue and the University of Flordia. She was the first Black woman to win the NCAA National title. She was also the first African America female to be General Manager with the WNBA Orlando Miracle. She was a graduate of Vanderbilt University who played center. Peck still holds the record for blocked shots in one season at 180. Her coaching career started under Pat Summitt and the Lady Vols. Then she moved on to the University of Kentucky and lastly assisted at Purdue before getting her first head coaching job. Peck now servers as one of the key analyst on ESPN during the NCAA Womens Tournament. Peck should be on the floor teaching young women this wonderful game with all of that knowledge.

Pokey Chatmen played then coached at Louisana State University. She was ousted after allegedly dating one of her players. This was one of the most disappointing moments in college women’s basketball. Chatmen lead the Lady Tigers to three final fours before retiring and going to a Russian Federation team. Chatmen return to the United States and is currently General Manager and head coach of the Chicago Skyy of the WNBA.

Dawn Michelle Staley head coach of the Temple Owls and the South Carolina Gamecocks. she was the first black female coach at South Carolina. Staley has won three big east titles been in six NCAA tournaments with the Owls and a NIT appearance with South Carolina.

Cheryl Miller- University of Southern California basketball star and Reggie Miller’s sister has lead a full life after graduating. She played for the United States in the 1983 Pan Am Games then the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles. She played on the 1986 Goodwill Games in Moscow and this was her chance to try the television job. She coached her alma mater in 1993, played on the U.S. international team, and in the United States Basketball League a men’s league. That did not last long before the WNBA called her to coach the Mercury 1997-2000. Miller recieved her first network job with ABC/ESPN and the Wide World of Sports in 1987-1993 then the 1988 Calgary Olympics and a sideline reporter for the 1991 Capitol One Bowl. She is now a broadcaster for TBS.

Terri Williams- Flournoy – Georgetown University hired an all Black asististant coaching staff and created a fire storm in 2006. Williams stated that she was overlooked many times when positions were open and she wanted to give young African American women a chance to coach. She stated that many college Athlete Directors do not know these young Black women so they do not hire them. Williams played for the Nittney Lions of Penn State who won 2 straight conference championships and went to the NCAA Tournament three of four years. She worked as assistant with Southwest Missouri State, University of Georgia, and finally Georgetown

Pennsyvania State University hired Conquese Washington in 2007. Washington played for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame while aquiring a Law degree. She enjoyed being the first President of the WNBA 1999-2001. Her pro career was short with the New York Liberty and Houston Comets before returing to her alma mater to be assistant coach. Then came the challenge at Penn State. She had to straighten out a team that was divided by former head coach Rene Portland.

Tia Jackson was hired in 2007 by the University of Washington and then let go in 2011. Washington did not recruit the players Jackson needed to preform her style of basketball. The Lady Huskies never preform up to their abilities and Jackson paid the price. Jackson attended the University of Iowa and played in the WNBA with the Phoenix Mercury in 1997.

Cynthia Cooper, attended the University of Southern California and became one of the best guards in women’s college basketball. She led the ladies of Troy to four straight NCAA tournament appearances and back to back national titles 1983-1984. Cooper played for the United States Olympic team and the Pan Am team in 1987. Most of her pro career were overseas in Spain and Italy.

Cooper won 4 WNBA Titles with the Houston Comets and went on to coach the Pheonix Mercury for a year and a half. She would teach the Mercury how to play defense.


Teresa Weatherspoon – played for Louisana Tech and then the WNBA New York Liberty and the Los Angeles Sparks. Weatherspoon was on of the best defenisive players in the league and won the award two years in a row. She is one of the new coaches in the NCAA as she returned to her alma mater in 2009 teaching young ladies the art of defense.

Jolette Law- Law played three years with the famous Harlem Globetrotters and was the assistant coach under Ms. Stringer at Rutgers before the University of Illinois hired her in 2008. She guided the Fighting Illini to 2 WNIT births.

Jolette Law

Jolette Law

There are other black assistant coaches that should be given a head coaching position for instance.

Helen Williams – Princeton University- Lady Tigers

Marion Jones most people forget Jones played basketball for the Tarheels at the University of North Caolina Chapel Hill, a team that won the national title in 1994 before her track stardom. She now serves as assistant coach and player for the Tulsa Shock. Jones was drafted by the Pheonix Mercury in 2003 but never played. Jones will always be remembered as one of track stars under the BALCO drug investigations and she was one of the few that went to prison for lying to the Federal Grand Jury.


Then there is the growing crop of players in college and in the league that could be potential head coaches.

Lisa Leslie- who plays for the Los Ang. Sparks of the WNBA

Sheryl Swoopes, re-entered the WNBA this year.

Essence Carson -Rutgers

Tamika Catchings -Tennessee

Alexis Gray Lawson -Univ. of California-Berkeley

Chamique Holdsclaw- Tennessee

Ivory Latta- University of North Carolina

Candance Parker-Tennessee

Cappie Pondexter-Rutgers

Epiphanny Prince- Rutgers

Charolette Smith, Univ. of North Carolina

Sylvia Fowles, Louisana State Univ.

The Paris sisters Oklahoma

Candance Wiggings-Stanford

With the youngest crop of players like

Maya Moore- University of Conn.

Britney Griner-Baylor University

Skylar Diggins-Notre Dame

The Ogwumike sisters -Stanford

African American Females still have a long way to go to become coaches or college administrators


Copyrighted 2011@ Gary Norris Gray- Gray Leopard Prod.