Women’s sports pioneer C. Vivian Stringer retires from coaching basketball
Women’s basketball legend and Rutgers head coach C.Vivian Stringer announced Saturday morning that she is retiring from coaching basketball. The pioneer in the game who accrued 1,055 wins in her career, will step down from her current position effective Sept. 1, 2022. The Hall of Famer’s career spans 50 years and includes memorable stints at Cheyney State, Iowa, and Rutgers, and includes 28 berths in the NCAA Tournament.
The court at Jersey Mike’s Arena at Rutgers will be renamed C. Vivian Stringer Court with a formal dedication ceremony planned for the upcoming season.
“I am officially announcing my retirement,” Stringer said in her announcement. “My life has been defined by coaching and I’ve been on this journey for over five decades. It is rare that someone gets to do what they love for this long and I have been fortunate to do that. I love Rutgers University for the incredible opportunity they offered me and the tremendous victories we achieved together. There’s always a soft spot in my heart for the University of Iowa and Dr. Christine Grant for giving me my first major coaching position, when me and my husband trusted her to move our family to Iowa. She was a strong believer in women’s rights and that’s a responsibility that I have championed and will continue to take up the fight for.
“After recently celebrating the first women’s Final Four team at Cheyney State University, where it all started, it sat with me that I have been at this for a long time. It is important to step aside and challenge others to step up and take this game forward. I am forever indebted to all the coaches who I worked beside. Some were former players, some were colleagues, but all were friends and family at the end of the day and were my most trusted relationships. To the young ladies that I was fortunate to have coached and mentored into the women and leaders of today, keep pushing the barriers, keep pushing for your spot at the table, and always know who you are.
“This was the hardest decision of my life, but I thank God he has allowed me to do the thing I love most. I am ready to start my new journey and spending more time with my family, children, and grandchildren. I am truly blessed to have had so many wonderful people in my life.”
The second full-time head coach in Rutgers women’s basketball history, Stringer has served at the helm of the Scarlet Knights since 1995, the longest tenured RU coach at the time of her retirement. During that span, Stringer won 535 games with the Scarlet Knights while qualifying for 17 NCAA Tournaments, including 10 consecutively from 2003 to 2012. Stringer led Rutgers to a pair of Final Four appearances in 2000 and 2007, with the latter culminating in RU’s first NCAA Championship Game. In 2000, she became the first men’s or women’s basketball coach to guide three different intercollegiate programs to the Final Four after playing in the first NCAA Championship Game with Cheyney State in 1992 and leading Iowa to the national semifinals in 1993.
Stringer’s historic impact was evident at every stop. She turned paltry resources and pre-Title IX injustices at a small, historically Black school at Cheyney State into a run at the national title. She turned a seven-win Iowa program that ranked 299th out of 302 teams in attendance figures into a perennial contender that posted its first-ever advance sellout of Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Within three seasons at Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights won 20 games and won a Big East division title. Within five years, RU rose to national prominence as the women’s game exploded in popularity across the United States.
Stringer surpassed the monumental 1,000 career victory milestone in November 2018. She became the fifth NCAA Division I women’s basketball coach to reach 1,000 career wins and was the first African-American coach to reach the milestone. She retires ranked fifth all-time in NCAA women’s basketball history with 1,055 career victories. In 2019-20, Stringer passed the late, great Pat Summitt and became the NCAA record holder with 37 seasons of 20 or more victories. Following that season, she received the John R. Wooden Award “Legends of Coaching” honor based on character, success on the court, graduation rate of student-athletes in their basketball program, coaching philosophy, and identification with the goals of the John R. Wooden Award.
Her standard of excellence extends to Stringer’s staff and student-athletes. In March 2021, Stringer was honored in the Sports Business Journal as a Leader in Diversity and Inclusive Hiring. Stringer also recruited, developed, and coached 21 student-athletes who would be selected in the WNBA Draft, along with others who played professionally overseas.
Stringer has served the game of basketball as an administrator and an international coach. An assistant coach for the gold-medal 2004 U.S. Olympic Team, her first USA Basketball experience came as an assistant for the bronze-medal 1980 USA Jones Cup Team. Stringer was one of the key players in the development of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. Stringer serves on the Board of Directors of the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund, created in fall 2007. The Foundation, in partnership with the V Foundation for Cancer Research, is an initiative to fight breast cancer.
In addition to her Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame induction in 2009 and Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement in 2001, Stringer entered another elite club with a 2020 induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame alongside Eli Manning, Rick Barry, Ed Harris, and Anne Hathaway.
• Fifth all-time in wins (all divisions) with 1,055 career victories
• First coach (men’s or women’s) to lead three different schools to the NCAA Final Four (Cheyney 1982; Iowa – 1993; Rutgers – 2000, 2007)
• Fifth women’s coach to reach 1,000 career wins
• Fourth women’s coach and seventh coach all-time (men’s or women’s) to register 900 wins
• Third women’s coach to record 750, 800 and 850 wins
• First African-American Division I coach (men’s or women’s) to reach 1,000 victory mark
• 28 NCAA Tournament appearances (1982-83, 1986-94, 1998-2001, 2003-2012, 2014-15, 2018-19, 2020-21)
• Nine NCAA Tournament Regional Finals (1982, 1987, 1988, 1993, 1999, 2000, 2005, 2007, 2008)
• 17 All-Big Ten selections, including one Defensive Player of the Year
• 41 All-BIG EAST honorees, including four Defensive Players of the Year
• Nation’s best defensive team in 1981, 1983 and 1993
• Nation’s second-best defensive team in 1985, 2005, 2006 and 2008
• 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1982 Pennsylvania AIAW state champions