By Gary Norris Gray, Staff Reporter
OAKLAND— Is it correct for men to be coaching women in the game of basketball? There is a saying in Storrs, Connecticut, home of the UConn Lady Huskies. “Men are men and women are Champions” It was a bone of contention after the male Huskies won the championship three years after the women won their first championship.
A male head coach has been in the Women’s Final Four the last eight years and again in 2019 with UConn’s Geno Auriemma and Oregon’s Kelly Graves, both men.
The Baylor Lady Bears ended the Lady Ducks’ dream of a national championship with female head coach Kim Mulkey’s 72-67 victory.
Muffitt McGraw and the Lady Fighting Irish defeated Auriemma and the Lady Huskies 81-76 in the late night game to create the matchup between two great female coaches and the number 1 team against number 2 for the National Title — This is the way it is supposed to be.
Nobody questions the two male coaches involved in Monday night’s basketball battle between The Texas Tech Red Raiders and Virginia Cavaliers. WHY?
Muffitt McGraw head coach at the University of Notre Dame raises the question again. Why do we have male coaches in female basketball programs? Why, when there is not a single female coach that leads a male basketball program in the United States.
High school and college young women need other women to look up too and to be leaders on the court and Head Coach McGraw just reminded us last week.
“Did you know that the Equal Rights Amendment was introduced in 1967 and still hasn’t passed? We need 38 states to agree that discrimination on the basis of sex is unconstitutional. We’ve had a record number of women running for office and winning, and still, we have 23 percent of the House and 25 percent of the Senate.
“I’m getting tired of the novelty of the first female governor of this state, the first female African-American mayor of this city. When is it going to become the norm instead of the exception?
“How are these young women looking up and seeing someone that looks like them, preparing them for the future? We don’t have enough female role models, we don’t have enough visible women leaders, we don’t have enough women in power. Girls are socialized to know when they come out, gender roles are already set.
“Men run the world. Men have the power. Men make the decisions. It’s always the men that is the stronger one. And when these girls are coming up, who are they looking up to tell them that that’s not the way it has to be? And where better to do that than in sports? All these millions of girls who play sports across the country, they could come out every day, and we’re teaching them some great things about life skills. But wouldn’t it be great if we could teach them to watch how women lead? This is the path for you to take, to get to the point where, in this country, we have 50 percent of women in power. Right now, less than 5 percent of women are CEOs in Fortune 500 companies.”
Auriemma has won 11 NCAA woman’s titles and five in a row and has the most victories as a male head coach today in the college woman’s basketball scene.
Maybe it is time for him to retire with back to back tournament loses and his un-sportsmen conduct towards Notre Dame after the loss this year. Walking off the court without shaking hands, something every team does now. Once again the lack of respect for the winning side. If you win gracefully one should lose gracefully, this is not in the Auriemma playbook.
Geno has the National Title record passing John Wooden-UCLA men’s basketball program with ten. Pat Summitt of the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers has eight national titles, no other coach is close. Geno has the longest winning streak by any college team with 126 victories and he has the longest road winning streak at 55 consecutive victories but what does that mean when you continue to browbeat female head coaches.
It was 50 years ago, before Title IX, before Auriemma, and before the NCAA included women; it was women who coached women’s sports in high school and college.
Women basketball powers were in small schools like Immaculata College of Pennsylvania winning four, and Delta State of Louisiana winning three of the first seven titles with female coaches.
In 1980-81 the NCAA took over many women’s programs and Louisiana Tech, University of Southern California, and Old Dominion became basketball powers. The University of Tennessee, University of Connecticut, and Stanford University built their programs from within slowly with one coach.
The first male coach to win a title was Leon Barmore from Louisiana Tech. When Auriemma won his first title with the undefeated Lady Huskies in 1996, it started a title wave of male coaches in the women’s game in the 1990s.
In 2019 there is not a single woman coaching a college baseball, basketball, football or hockey team yet men make up 25%-30% of female basketball coaches. The question should be asked WHY? Currently, there are 13 vacancies open. Who will these athletic directors hire?
With the lack of female athletic directors, we have the lack of female head coaches. People hire people that look like them and the cycle continues. Progress in the NCAA has been a long haul and a slow procedure it will continue to be so, Ms. McGraw just gave them another push.
These past hirings have stunted the growth of female basketball coaches in high school and college. Muffitt McGraw wants to change this paradigm.
It was 50 years ago, females were primarily physical education teachers, and their network was rooted in that profession. Then men stepped in 1960-70, and women had to fit into the male model for the coaching profession, that is also now slowly changing.
Watching a woman’s basketball game, one can tell within minutes if that team is coached by a male or female. The Male-coached team plays overly aggressive defense. This has changed slightly due to the Lady Huskies winning making other women’s programs to change their training. Teams all over the country have changed their style of play to defeat U-Conn. It is working because the Lady Huskies are finding it to be harder to get to the Final Four.
Current teams shoot more three-pointers and they are more assertive on the court. The old school teams tried to use brute force like the men, which is no longer the case. Male coaches also use the tactic of intimidation, something Auriemma is very good at.
It is interesting that Auriemma does not display this boorish intimidating behavior when his team plays another woman’s team with a male head coach. HMMMM!!!
This is a slap in the face for women basketball legends Kathy Rush-Immaculate College, Delta State’s Margaret Wade, Rutgers University- C. Vivian Stringer’s Lady Knights, Pat Summit at the University of Tennessee Lady Vols; Stanford University head coach Tara VanDerveer.
Geno has problems with female head coaches that beat him and Muffitt McGraw is now on his hit list after this year’s Final Four.
\Female coached teams are more fundamentally sound and they run front court plays with precision. Their passes are clean and crisp. Ladies play the game on the floor, not in the air. The players play below the rim, unlike their male counterparts who are flying Wallendas above the rim.
With female coaches, the players position themselves for rebounds and block out opponents underneath the basket. Female players make clear passes to each other. They use their basketball skills rather than physical brawn to beat the other team. Something the men should learn.
In the early years, there are a lot of female players that stated said that “I don’t want to play for a woman.” They’d rather play for a man. So we are slowly reaping what we have sown as a society? This has slowly changed over the last 20 years with the rebirth of the women’s revolution, now women want women to be their role models. Women want to be directed and lead by women. The change is positive and productive creating female leadership.
Ms. McGraw wants to change 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.
Take note that there is not a single female head coach on any male basketball program in high school, college, or professional level. The WNBA also has a high percentage of male coaches, men head coaches have also won the WNBA Championship, the question again should be asked why can’t women do the same thing?
There is also the lesbian factor, in the past most parents of young ladies worry about and high school and college administrators feared. It was because of the unknown. There have always been players on the court that were gay but had to stay undercover in fear of the backlash from the media and the fans. The WNBA has embraced this fan base and has flourished the past ten years. These young women can now play the game they love without being out-ted by the public or sports media. The “Me Too,” political movement leading the way. Young ladies are free to express themselves.
This issue of sexual harassment might become null and void in about ten years because most high school and college administrators and athletic directors will limit the hiring male basketball coaches to replace the existing male coaches who are retiring.
The NCAA also has to address the issue of race; two years ago Dawn Staley-University of South Carolina became only the second African American female to win the National Title.
Carolyn Peck at the University of Purdue won in 1999 becoming the first Black head coach to win breaking Pat Summitt’s Lady Volunteer three year reign. It is twice as difficult for African American woman to land a head coaching job in high school and college because they have to be twice as good as their white counterparts with the same qualifications; they also have to have an even temperament something white coaches are never asked to have.
Back to the question, should males be coaching female basketball players?
You make your own decision.
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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