Women need timing, hard work to be hired as men's coaches

Saturday, February 15, 2003

The Associated Press

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. -- In coaching, timing is everything.

Teresa Phillips made history Thursday night as the first woman to coach one game of men's Division I college basketball because she is the athletics director at Tennessee State and substituted for her suspended coach.

Phillips thinks the woman who gets such a job permanently will need to be in the right place at the right time -- plus have a record of hard work and success in the men's game.

"You can't just jump and be head coaches and all that stuff. Male head coaches didn't just jump and be head coaches. They were assistant coaches first," Phillips said.

NCAA statistics from 1999-2000, the most recent season available, show that in all three divisions of men's basketball, women held 26 of the 2,012 assistant coaches jobs, or 1.3 percent. That compared with 545 men out of 1,734 assistants, or 31.4 percent, with women's teams.

In Division I, women coaches did just slightly better, holding 16 of 860 assistant jobs, or 1.9 percent. Among Division I women's basketball, 195 of the 777 assistants were men, or just over 25 percent.

Dave Loos, athletic director and men's basketball coach at Austin Peay, had Andrea Miller as an assistant for 2001-2002. But she chose to leave and coach high school volleyball.

"We were willing to give a young lady a shot on the ground floor, and she did well. I think people that want to do that they have to be willing to start where a lot of coaches start," Loos said.

"That's sweeping floors and pulling the bleachers out and all the dirty work."

Phillips thinks the biggest challenge for women wanting to coach men will be recruiting high school boys.

"A lot of recruiting is developing those contacts. As of right now, there are no women over on the men's side with contacts with the male high school, JUCO and AAU coaches," Phillips said.

"It's going to first take more men head coaches and institutions taking maybe initially what they might perceive as a risk of hiring a female assistant and getting them out in that world."

Her history-making appearance on the sideline Thursday night came because the Ohio Valley Conference suspended interim coach Hosea Lewis for a benches-clearing brawl Monday night at Eastern Kentucky.

But the Tennessee State Tigers played much better after just two practices in 48 hours with Phillips, a 19-year coaching veteran, before losing to Austin Peay 71-56. That may help knock down some old excuses for why women cannot coach men.

The Tigers played with much more energy and tenacity on defense than they did Feb. 4 when they trailed the entire game and lost to Austin Peay by 25. This time, they led the Governors with 6:18 left before Austin Peay took control with a 17-0 run.

Austin Peay forward Adrian Henning was impressed with their improvement and credited Phillips. He said playing for a woman could be difficult for some men because of the differences between the sexes.

But Henning said being male doesn't help a lot of bad coaches.

"I'd much rather play for Pat Summitt than some of these guys who are bad coaches," Henning said of the Tennessee coach who recently won her 800th game.

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