Slow gains in college head coaching diversity

Courtesy of UW Athletics Marisa Moseley

When Wisconsin hired her, Marisa Moseley joined legendary Rutgers Coach C. Vivian Stringer as the Big Ten’s only Black women HCs. How important is coaching diversity, especially to Black women? We asked Moseley during her March 22 introductory Zoom conference call with reporters. 

“I’ve earned the jobs I have because of my competency and my ability,” Moseley said, “and I happen to be a Black female. I’m a proud Black woman.”

Moseley’s impressive coaching resume includes nine years as an assistant coach with UConn, appearing in the Final Four each of those years, and two seasons at Minnesota with former coach Pam Borton. She began her coaching career at Denver. The past three seasons she was Boston University head coach and made the Patriot League tournament title game this season.

“I have the opportunity to show that we [as Black females] are capable [to run] a Power 5 program and be successful, and other Blacks should get the opportunity as well,” stated Moseley, Wisconsin’s second Black female coach in school history. “We should be afforded the opportunity more often than not.”

At present the Power 5 WBB coaching diversity count is as follows: Now over half of the SEC teams [eight of 14] are coached by Black women after Auburn hired Johnnie Harris last week; three in the ACC, two in the Big Ten, two in the Pac-12, and zero in the Big 12. We have seen recent sistahs hired at non-Power 5 schools as well, such as Memphis (Katrina Merriweather, formerly at Wright State).

“When we’re given the opportunity, we have to be successful,” stated Arizona’s Adia Barnes last week. She and South Carolina HC Dawn Staley made history as this year’s Final Four had two Black coaches for the first time, and the former led her club to Sunday’s title game, only the fourth sistah to do so.

Courtesy of Twitter Dawn Staley (l) and Adia Barnes

Last month Staley and Joni Taylor (Georgia) coached against each other in the SEC championship game, the first time in conference history that two Black coaches have done so. 

And not to be historically outdone, three of the four WNIT semifinalists were headed by Black females, and Yolett McPhee-McCuin’s Ole Miss squad finished as WNIT runners-up last month. This might be the first time in recent history that both the NCAA and WNIT championship games featured Black females not as players but as head coaches.

Micah Shrewsberry and Mike Woodson last week were introduced as Penn State and Indiana’s new MBB coaches respectively, making four Black coaches in the Big Ten now. Just three years ago there were none.

“I’m proud to be a part of that significance,” Shrewsberry told the MSR. “This is the greatest and most competitive conference in the country. To be a head coach in this league is an honor. To be an African American coach in this league even more an honor.”

Yet coaching diversity in both men’s and women’s hoops hasn’t changed much in numbers and percentages in nearly a decade, according to the recent NCAA Demographics database:

WBB – Black female HCs – 58 (17%) in 2020 from 47 (14%) in 2012

MBB – Black male HCs – 98 (28%) in 2020; 86 (25%) in 2012

“I know the reality is as a Black female if I get fired, I probably will not be recycled,” noted Barnes.  “Most Black women…do not get a second opportunity.”

Surmised Moseley, “I feel really fortunate that I can have this platform to not only try to win games but also more than that, to show…we can do so much more than just teach this game with a round  ball.”

“We need to help other people get this opportunity,” said Shrewsberry.