C. Vivian Stringer, celebrated basketball coach, returns

C. Vivian Stringer, the Hall of Fame women’s basketball coach at Rutgers University who first commanded a college sideline in 1971 and became one of her sports premier defensive minds, said Saturday that she would retire in September.

The first black coach to win at least 1,000 Division I basketball games, Stringer, 74, has long been one of the celebrated and idolized figures in college sports. In recent years, though, she’s occasionally taken a step back from the Rutgers program she built into a major women’s basketball team over more than a quarter-century in charge of Piscataway, NJ. She did not coach last season, and she has a few players missed. after the end of the 2018-19 season due to exhaustion.

“After recently celebrating the first Women’s Final Four team at Cheyney State University, where it all began, it sat with me that I had been there for a long time,” Stringer said in a statement. “It’s important to go to the side and challenge others to step up and take this game forward.”

Stringer won 535 games at Rutgers, where she became the coach in 1995 and relied on a punishing “55” defense that used all five players in full court pressure. Their Rutgers run included two Final Four appearances from 17 NCAA Tournament bettors.

She also led Cheyney State, a historic black university near Philadelphia, to the 1982 title game – the first in NCAA history for women’s basketball – and the University of Iowa to the 1993 Final Four. In Iowa, where she inherited a program in 1983 that won just seven games last season, she transformed the Hawkeyes into a model of consistency and strength at the Big Ten Conference.

An NCAA Championship was ultimately elusive, but Stringer will retire with 1,055 career victories, the fifth most in Division I Women’s College Basketball, and a spot on the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, to which she was inducted in 2009. Dozens of Stringer players has continued to play in the WNBA and in professional leagues abroad, including Kahleah Copper, Arella Guirantes, Cappie Pondexter and Erica Wheeler.

Rutgers announced in April 2021 that it had reached a $ 5.5 million contract extension with Stringer, who was then expected to stay with the Scarlet Knights until the end of the 2025-26 season. But she has never coached another game, fueling frustrations and speculation surrounding women’s basketball about the future of the program.

This past season, Rutgers went 11-20, with a 3-14 record in the Big Ten Conference game.

Even as the Rutgers announced the start of a coaching search on Saturday, university officials were afraid to pay tribute to Stringer, who was just the second full-time women’s basketball coach in school history. The university said it would name its home basketball court for Stringer, which also received $ 872,988 in connection with a retirement agreement.

“My life has been defined by coaching and I have been on this journey for over five decades,” Stringer said. “It’s rare for someone to do what they love for so long and I was happy to do that.”

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