By Gary Norris Gray, Staff Reporter
OAKLAND, CA.- History was made when C. Vivian Stringer became the first Black female coach to win 1,000 games with Cheyney State-HBCU, Iowa and Rutgers. Stringer is the third female coach to achieve this goal.
The current head coach of Rutgers University can be called the Queen of the women’s basketball coaching fraternity or sorority. She 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.
She instills pride and poise in all of her players. With all of her family tragedies, she still performs 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 Association and the Rainbow/PUSH organization have also given Ms. Stringer this Award in 2000.
Stringer is still fighting the ghost of Pat Summitt-Tennessee and Geno Auriemma-University of Connecticut.
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.
According to the most recent Diversity and Ethics in Sports report on college athletics by Richard Lapchick, only 11.4 percent of head coaches for women’s hoops were African-American women in 2016-17. That’s 37 of the 315 jobs.
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 and HCBUs).
Less than 45% of all high school athletes are women
Less than 40% of all college athletes are women
Male athletes receive $210 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 50% of all coaches of women’s teams are female.
PART IV-THE GAME
Let’s go back in time when the women’s game was played half court. Defenders stayed on one side of the court while the offensive players played on the other side. Players could not cross the mid-strip line, making it a three-on-three game for many years.
African-American women basketball teams were in existence 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 in the Southern states.
The Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Woman (AIWA) kept sports alive for females on a very small scale.
Women’s basketball did not return as a national pastime until a little women’s Catholic College in mid-eastern Pennsylvania built a powerhouse, with Cathy Rush as head coach. The beginning of the 1970’s Immaculata College, now Immaculata University, The Mighty Macs-as they were known on the East Coast won the first three AIWA national college titles 1972-74.
My sister (center-forward Deniece E Gray) was an intricate part of this women’s basketball machine. Whenever you see a story about The Mighty Macs on ESPN-TV there is the same grainy video clip which they play of Ms. Gray taking down a rebound underneath the basket.
The Delta State- Lady Statesmen in Mississippi took the next three AIAW national titles 75-77 with big strong center Lucy Harris. Harris could score at will because nobody could move her off of the block and away from the basket. Delta State had the longest winning streak in women’s basketball history at 51 games at that time, under Hall of Fame Coach, Margaret Wade.
These two events with Immaculata College and Delta State University winning the first six women’s college titles changed women’s basketball forever. Big strong centers like Lucy Harris with strong recruiting classes would dominate the sport in the next decade.
The Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters, and the Old Dominion University Lady Monarchs, took over the national spotlight and won the next three titles ending the small school reign.
The NCAA and big schools took over with young females all over the country playing the game they loved in high schools and colleges. It would be very difficult for smaller schools to make the Final Four. In 1982-83 The Lady Techsters defeated Cheyney State-Pennsylvania in the last championship involving smaller schools, La. Tech winning 82-76.
Small schools like Delta State University, and Immaculata College, never came close to the national title again. La. Tech, and ODU Lady Monarchs would win one more title each but the end was near. Small schools dropped the basketball program because they did not have the funds to compete against the Division One programs.
In last year’s NCAA March Madness playoffs seven African American coaches stood on the sidelines and three of those were Black males. This was out of a field of 68 teams. This is also not counting the two HBCU head coaches out of 68 teams.
This does not bode well for the NCAA. There is the growing issue that men should not be coaching women and with the ME-TOO national movement blossoming this issue has gotten bigger. Geno Auriemma at the University of Conn might be retiring at the right time being the current winnest coach in woman’s NCAA basketball and a man.
(1) Athletic directors, 85 percent of whom are white men, tend to hire from their group of associates, which typically excludes 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 9 percent from ten years ago. The number of black women playing college basketball has traditionally been slowly rising, meaning the pool of former players taking an interest in coaching is also beginning to rise. In 2011 the numbers are slowly changing. The administrations of these schools are still slow to respond.
(4) The issue of the gay and lesbian crowd and players which has gotten a few coaches in trouble over the years with relationships on the court.
NEXT COACHING OLD SCHOOL
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian, Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston, Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network, Disabled Community Activist. Email Glcgray@gmail.com
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