PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — Former Penn State women's basketball coach Coquese Washington will succeed Hall of Famer C. Vivian Stringer as coach at Rutgers, the school announced Monday.
Washington, who spent the past two seasons as an assistant at Notre Dame, agreed to a six-year contract, the school said. It guarantees total compensation of $4.625 million with additional performance incentives.
Stringer retired late last month at age 74, capping a career in which she won more than 1,000 games in 50 seasons — the last 25 at Rutgers — and went to the Final Four four times with three different teams: Cheyney State, Iowa and Rutgers. She did not coach this past season because of concerns over COVID-19.
Assistant Tim Eatman filled in for Stringer last season. The Scarlet Knights went 11-20 overall and 3-14 in the Big Ten.
Washington went 209-169 in 12 seasons at Penn State (2007-19) and was named Big Ten coach of the year three straight times from 2012-14, a stretch that included three of her four NCAA Tournament appearances with the Lady Lions.
“It is important that the next leader of our women’s basketball program be someone with a proven track record of winning, exemplary leadership and great character," athletic director Pat Hobbs said in a statement. “Coquese is the perfect fit on all those criteria. She is someone who is hard-working, passionate and dedicated to building a championship program and that commitment extends equally to the success our student-athletes will have off the court.”
Washington had two stints at Notre Dame, previously serving as an assistant at her alma mater from 1999-2007 under longtime coach Muffet McGraw. The Fighting Irish won the first of McGraw's two national titles in 2001.
Washington then became the first Black woman to lead the Penn State program. Following her third straight Big Ten title in 2014, the Lady Lions fell off dramatically and had only one winning record in Big Ten play in the next five seasons. Washington was fired in 2019 and spent the following season as associate head coach at Oklahoma.
“I am beyond thrilled with the opportunity to be here at Rutgers, a university that excels both academically and athletically,” Washington said. “Following in the footsteps of Hall of Fame coaches Theresa Grentz and C. Vivian Stringer is a tremendous honor. They exemplify achieving high levels of excellence with grace, class, integrity and dignity.”
The Fighting Irish made the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament this year with Washington assisting second-year coach Niele Ivey.
Washington played for Notre Dame and averaged 2.7 steals per game, the best in school history. She played six seasons in the WNBA, winning a championship with the Houston Comets in 2000.
Washington also served as founding president and executive vice president of the WNBA Players Association.
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