There are nearly 100 Black female and male coaches leading women’s college basketball teams this season. Last week the MSR talked with three veteran Black female HCs in separate in-person interviews after their respective contests. Here we speak with Andrea Williams.
Andrea Williams is in her second year, guiding Chicago State through a women’s basketball independent schedule. As a result, she has literally no off nights.
There are scheduled road games at Power Five schools such as Minnesota and Notre Dame, a Thanksgiving week tournament at Cleveland State, and another tournament in Miami, around Christmas time before the 2023-24 slate eventually levels off. Six of the Cougars’ last seven games are at home—out of 11 home games in total.
Once an NAIA and NCAA Division II school, the predominantly Black public university located on Chicago’s South Side transitioned to Division I in 1994. CSU left the Western Athletic Conference in 2022, after nine seasons. Both the women’s and men’s basketball teams play as independents.
“Not a lot of time to prepare,” admitted Williams, who CSU hired as WBB head coach in July 2022. The 27-year coaching veteran, in all three divisions came to Chicago State after three years leading D-II Fort Valley State in Georgia.
Most of this season’s schedule takes place in November and December, “So there’s no time off,” continued Williams. Nonetheless, given such challenges, “We need to stay Division I so we’re a viable option for whatever conference picks us up,” the coach explained.
Williams is the second consecutive Black female HC Minnesota hosted this season. CSU played the Gophers after they hosted Rene Haynes’ Long Island University squad at The Barn. (Haynes is also featured in this week’s MSR.)
We first talked to Williams last summer shortly after CSU hired her, featuring her in pre-game and post-game pieces before when her team played Minnesota last season.
“I love what I do,” noted Williams, who began coaching in 1995 at Edinburgh University of Pennsylvania. “It’s always good to be around the girls, the women… You’re providing women who are going to do something with their college degrees [after playing basketball].
“Now I’m in Chicago where you can branch out to do anything. And you can always stay in this city once you graduate.”
Williams is fully aware of the low number of D-I Black women’s basketball coaches, or Black coaches overall for that matter.
“I don’t think I’m a rare exception,” said Williams. “I think we’re making strides. On opening night we had plenty of [Black] coaches that got their debut as head coaches.”
She pointed out Yolisha (Lisa) Jackson at South Alabama. “One of my former assistants,” Williams noted with pride. “You had Providence with Erin Batth [in her first year as head coach]. I think Northeastern came away with an opening win,” she said of first-year HC Priscilla Edwards-Lloyd.
“I think it needs to be the norm rather than the exception,” said Williams. “There can never be enough.”
As the Cougars proceed through their season, “Our kids are bouncing back and they’re not going to shy away from the competition, and we’re just gonna stay at it. I’m excited,” said Williams. “I have a good staff around me…young women that want to stay in basketball and coaching.”