Rutgers Women’s Basketball Coach C. Vivian Stringer announces retirement after 50-year career

C. Vivian Stringer with Sakima Walker (courtesy Rutgers Athletics)

April 30

The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Head Coach leaves the game with 1,055 wins and countless lives improved through leadership, mentorship, and guidance

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – C. Vivian Stringer today announced her retirement from coaching basketball following a Hall of Fame career at Cheyney State, Iowa, and Rutgers. In 50 years as a collegiate head coach, Stringer amassed 1,055 wins, four Final Four appearances, and 28 berths in the NCAA Tournament. Beyond the immortally enshrined statistics, she has served as a mother, a teacher, and a mentor to generations of young women learning life in and around the game of basketball.
 
Stringer’s retirement will become effective on Sept. 1, 2022, and as part of the retirement agreement will be paid $872,988. A national search for the next head women’s basketball coach will begin immediately.  
 
In honor of her quarter-century of service to Scarlet Knight student-athletes, the Rutgers community, and the game beyond “the Banks,” all basketball games at Jersey Mike’s Arena will henceforth be played on C. Vivian Stringer Court. A formal dedication ceremony is being planned for the upcoming women’s basketball season.
 
“I am officially announcing my retirement,” said Stringer. “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.”
 
“Coach Stringer is a titan in college basketball, inspiring generations of student-athletes and coaches to pursue excellence on and off the court,” said Rutgers Athletic Director Pat Hobbs. “As the first coach to lead three different programs to the Final Four, she will continue to be mentioned along with the game’s other great Hall of Famers. Her place in the history of the game is cemented, but more remarkable is the legions of young women whose lives she helped shape.”
 
“Coach Stringer’s impact has been felt across our campuses, around the state and throughout the nation.  She is an icon whose accomplishments on and off the court are as remarkable as they are inspiring,” said Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway.
 
“Naming the court at one of the most notable venues in college basketball after her is a fitting and indelible tribute to one of the greatest coaches of all time,” he added.
 
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.
 
BY THE NUMBERS
• 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
 
 
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