Marlene Stollings

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A sports reporter’s spring notebook cleaning

Marlene Stollings’ second hire on her Gopher women’s basketball coaching staff is Nikita (Niki) Dawkins. She is a 23-year coaching veteran who has been a VCU assistant coach the last two seasons and held similar positions at Old Dominion, Michigan and Ohio State, her alma mater. In a released statement, Stollings called Dawkins, whose duties include recruiting coordinator, “one of the top assistants in the country.” She joins Tiffanie Couts, who Stollings named director of basketball operations. Couts was a grad assistant last season at VCU. The women are the only two Blacks on the staff. Continue Reading →

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Stollings makes all the right promises

Marlene Stollings last week became the 11th women’s basketball coach in Gopher history and the sixth head coach for the longest running beat reporter of U of M women’s hoops — yours truly. “Thank you for covering [us] for so long,” Stollings said before our one-on-one interview last Tuesday on the Williams Arena floor. Asked about recruiting more Black players, Stollings said, “The best answer I can give you is I’m looking for people that can play and perform at a high level. We will recruit the best, whoever that might be. We will go after them.”

Asked if she will reach out more to local Black high school coaches, the new coach said, “I don’t mind you telling me if there is someone we have not connected with. Continue Reading →

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Gophers AD dodges the diversity question

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I never attend an introductory press conference without my sixth sense, third eye and third ear. Without it, this columnist could not decipher such adjectives as “best” and “right fit” that always are used when a non-Black coach is introduced. The “White” adjectives flowed like maple sap April 8, when Minnesota Athletic Director Norwood Teague introduced new Gopher Women’s Basketball Coach Marlene Stollings at Williams Arena. He proudly told the assembled media,

including the MSR, that Stollings’ hiring is the result of tapping “a very deep and diverse talent pool.”

However, during the Q&A session, when the MSR asked Teague if his “pool” also included Black candidates, it looked like he was mentally scratching his head in search of the right response: “Charles, I don’t want to go too deep into where and who we interviewed,” disclosed Teague. “I’m not sure I can tell you right now. Continue Reading →

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Gopher fans’ website doesn’t play fair

 

Some all-sports websites and fan “chat rooms” are as fair and balanced as Fox News. MSR Columnist Ron Edwards recently was double-roasted by readers on GopherHole.com, a pro-Minnesota college sports website. Edwards is regularly featured on the editorial page. His column on former Minnesota coaches Clem Haskins’ and Tubby Smith’s treatment as Gopher coaches (“Was it Tubby Smith’s fault?” March 27) got reposted on the site and drew seismic-like comments, some of which crossed the line of fairness. It’s unfortunate that many readers on that site totally missed Edwards’ main points: Black coaches, whether in Minnesota or elsewhere, are unfairly held to double standards unlike their White counterparts, and many U of M Black players left the school with bad tastes in their mouths. Continue Reading →

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