As time wound down in Virginia Tech’s 84-74 Elite Eight win against Ohio State on Monday night, the Hokies assured two new additions to the history books. The victory would send them to the program’s first-ever Final Four, and, under the leadership of head coach Kenny Brooks, Virginia Tech would also be sending the eighth Black head coach in tournament history to the semifinal.
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Here’s a breakdown of the eight Black head coaches to accomplish this feat:
|1. C. Vivian Stringer||Cheyney||1982||Championship game loss|
|Rutgers||2007||Championship game loss|
|2. Winthrop McGriff*||Cheyney||1984||Semifinal loss|
|3. Carolyn Peck||Purdue||1999||Champion|
|4. Pokey Chatman||LSU||2005||Semifinal loss|
|5. Dawn Staley||South Carolina||2015||Semifinal loss|
|South Carolina||2021||Semifinal loss|
|South Carolina||2023||Semifinal loss|
|6. Quentin Hillsman*||Syracuse||2016||Championship game loss|
|7. Adia Barnes||Arizona||2021||Championship game loss|
|8. Kenny Brooks*||Virginia Tech||2023||Semifinal loss|
* denotes males
The 2021 tournament saw South Carolina's Dawn Staley and Arizona's Adia Barnes break ground in the first Women’s Final Four to feature two Black head coaches. This year will be the second instance, with Staley comprising half of the tandem again.
Through the SEC powerhouse’s dominance, Dawn Staley continues to not only be an example of excellence, but an advocate for what diversifying positions of leadership can produce. She noted in a 2021 press conference following the Gamecocks’ Elite Eight win, "There's so many Black coaches out there that don't get opportunities. Representation matters. Nothing against anybody else that lost to us. But when you see Black women representing in this way, I hope the decision-makers [notice].”
The representation Staley was referring to has seen five Black female coaches and three Black male coaches achieve Final Four status.
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The third, Kenny Brooks, sat down with NCAA.com’s Autumn Johnson in the preseason to discuss the importance of male coaches in women's hoops. “There needs to be some advocacy for men of color [in women’s basketball], because I do think we are good for the game. When it comes down to it, you want good people representing your program. I’ve learned that maybe what I am doing will give somebody else an opportunity.”
Kenny Brooks is the only male head coach left in this year's tournament field and will aim to make history, again, in securing Virginia Tech's first national title across any sport in the school's history; Staley will coach in her fifth Final Four this weekend with the goal of notching her third national title.
Nothing but praise from @CoachBrooksVT for @dawnstaley acknowledging that all black male coaches need is an opportunity.#MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/fZIG50gR6w— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessWBB) March 28, 2023
But first, Virginia Tech will meet LSU at 7 p.m. on Friday, followed by South Carolina's battle against Iowa at 9:30 p.m. (all games on ESPN), at American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX.