Big 10 commissioner pledges maximum diversity

Photo by Charles Hallman Willie Green

The Big Ten has—count ‘em—five Black head coaches this basketball season, two WBB and three MBB.

“We had five head coaching vacancies that were in our men’s and women’s basketball ranks. Four of these five individuals are people of color,” exclaimed Commissioner Kevin Warren during the Oct. 7-8 media days in Indianapolis. “They’re hard-working, they’re honorable…and they will do a good job in leading their programs.”

Two of the new hires once played at the schools they are now coaching (Minnesota’s Ben Johnson, Mike Woodson at Indiana) and joined Juwan Howard, who also played at Michigan, where he was one of the Fab Five.

“We will continually be leaders in the industry to promote diversity, equity and inclusion from a race standpoint, a gender standpoint, sexual orientation,” stated Warren. “I am a big believer in the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion. The more diverse we can become…the better we are.

“I look for diversity, inclusion and equality as we go forward,” reiterated the first Black commissioner of a Power Five conference.

Following are remarks by the Big Ten’s “five COCs” (coaches of color) at the media days:

MARISA MOSELEY, first year, Wisconsin WBB: “I’m really excited to be part of this incredible conference. I want to make sure that we play with passion, we’re selfless…that we’re the most prepared team…that every time they take the floor they feel confident and ready to compete.”

MIKE WOODSON, first year, Indiana MBB: “I spent all my life in the NBA. I don’t know if I have an advantage or not. I know I’m competing with a lot of great college coaches and a lot of great players.”

BEN JOHNSON, first year, Minnesota MBB: “Being able to see it from every angle, as a kid growing up, going to The Barn, obviously as a student-athlete, as an assistant coach, now as a head coach, of coming full circle, I understand the special place that Minnesota is.”

MICAH SHREWSBERRY, first year, Penn State MBB: “We’re trying to get as cohesive a team as possible right now.”

TIM EATMAN, Rutgers associate WBB head coach speaking for Head Coach C. Vivian Stringer: “Coach Stringer goes right back to the basics… We start with the basics because we want to give every team an opportunity to be the best team that they can possibly be.”

JUWAN HOWARD, third year, Michigan MBB: “I’m so excited to get an opportunity to go in there and coach and learn from them.”

Green new Pelicans HC

Willie Green in July was named New Orleans Pelicans head coach. After a 12-year NBA playing career (2003-15), the Detroit native went into coaching in 2017, first as an assistant with back-to-back NBA champions Golden State, and was the team’s 2018 summer league head coach. The previous two seasons (2019-21) he had been a Phoenix assistant coach.

“I’m extremely fortunate to have this opportunity,” said Green to the MSR on his first NBA HC job. 

WNBA Legend Teresa Weatherspoon is the only female on the Pelicans staff, one of seven Black assistants. “Coach Spoon is the best,” said Green. “She is full of life, full of joy. All of our guys love her. We’re fortunate to have her.”