For the first time in the history of the NCAA women’s tournament, two Black women will be head coaches in the same Final Four.
South Carolina’s Dawn Staley will feature in her third Final Four, winning the title back in 2017, with Adia Barnes and her Arizona team appearing for the first time
March Madness is a historic college basketball game, in which 64 teams – packed with the next generation of WNBA and NBA players – exit the tournament in a two-week elimination tournament to win the top team. The event is known for great moments, annoyances and good deeds.
Speaking to reporters about the history following South Carolina’s victory over Texas, Staley said he was “very proud of Adia” and “glad she did it.”
“It was not for any other reason except that we were represented in the major women’s college basketball category,” she said.
“And it’s because there are so many Black coaches out there who don’t get a chance because if the AD [Athletics Directors] don’t see it, they don’t see it – and they’ll see it in the biggest Friday night category, that two Black women represent two programs in the Final Four, something that has never been done before.
“You know, our history here in the women’s basket is so full of Black people’s bodies that for this to happen in 2021, for me it has been a long time, but we are proud. We are happy.
“I know my phone is probably full of messages from Black coaches across the country, just to congratulate us for doing that, for being there, for being on time, for being able to bring our programs to this place.”
Both Staley and Barnes are WNBA players – who won the title with Seattle Storm in 2004 – and Barnes revealed he was full of messages from his teammates.
On Friday, South Carolina will face Stanford, while Arizona will face Conn.
The two women led their teams to the Final Four in an impressive manner, Staley’s South Carolina well pushed Texas aside with a 62-34 win, while Barnes’ Arizona outscored Indiana in a 66-53 injury.
It also means that Staley and Barnes are the only WNBA players to ever lead teams to the Final Four as head coaches.
“I know Adia uses all her basketball knowledge as a player and has been a coach long enough that she’s not just a suit,” Staley said.
“It’s always going to be a part of us and that’s why our players … we really like them. They understand it because it comes from the place where we ‘did that.
“It is important to be represented. It is not against anyone else who has lost us, but if you see two Black women standing in this way, I hope the decision-makers – because there are so many jobs that give black women a chance – not just give them a job.
“Bring them in. Talk to them. If you’re not an employer, let them know why.
“Let them know why we will continue to work and perfect our art and expertise because there are so many people out there who don’t get the opportunities they deserve because that’s exactly what can happen if you give a black woman a chance.
“Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want people to start beating me up on social media by simply hiring the best coach. If it was that easy, if it was that easy, there would be more Black head coaches in the game.”
Earlier this month, the NCAA caused a stir over the services provided to the men and women teams that participated in the March Madness Games.