Eastern Illinois hires former WNBA player as new head coach
CHARLESTON, Ill. -- On Thursday afternoon, Debbie Black was hired as the sixth head women’s basketball coach in the NCAA Division I history of Eastern Illinois and eighth since the inception of the program.
Black was welcomed to Eastern Illinois at an afternoon press conference in the Baker/Warmoth Hall of Champions in Lantz Arena where she was joined by EIU President Dr. William Perry, Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Dan Nadler and EIU Director of Athletics Barbara Burke.
“Debbie Black has won at all levels of basketball,” Burke said. “During her interview she displayed an energy, passion and drive for coaching the game that will keep Eastern Illinois as one of the top programs, not only in the Ohio Valley Conference, but in the region.”
A former assistant coach at Ohio State, Black has worked and played for some of the most successful coaches in women’s basketball.
Most recently, Black was part of a successful run for the Buckeyes women’s program under head coach Jim Foster that saw Ohio State win six Big Ten Conference Championships in eight seasons. The program made seven consecutive NCAA tournament appearances with her as a member of the staff, including advancing to the NCAA Round of 16 in 2009 and 2011.
“I opened the press conference telling you about the book that is used in third grade classes as a source for motivation. That story ends with me being an assistant coach, but my story continues with this head coaching opportunity at Eastern Illinois,” Black said. “I always knew my story would continue because I know my character and my work ethic. I never quit, never stop. I believe you have to work hard and give it your all everyday. That is they way I played and that is the way I coach.”
Black’s ties to Jim Foster go back to her playing days at St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia. As a player, she helped lead the Hawks to four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. Black earned her degree from St. Joseph’s in 1988.
As a player Black played more than ten seasons at the professional level. She began her career in the WNBL playing in Tasmania. She was the 15th overall selection in the 1999 WNBA Draft by the Utah Starzz.
She was named the WNBA Defensive Player of the Year while a member of the Miami Sol and ended her professional career in 2005 as a member of the Connecticut Sun.
All told she has been part of 34 consecutive winning seasons of basketball both as a player and a coach. Nicknamed “The Pest” during her playing days, Black is the only women’s professional player to ever record a quadruple double with 10 points, 14 rebounds, 12 assists and 10 steals.
Eastern Illinois won its second Ohio Valley Conference regular-season championship last year advancing to the program’s fourth consecutive postseason appearance. EIU beat Missouri in the first round of the WNIT to record the program’s first post-season victory.