“I’ve Been On This Journey For Over Five Decades” | Rutgers Legendary Coach C. Vivian Stringer Announces Retirement

(Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images)

The years 2021-22 have seen some real heavyweights in college basketball step away from the game.

Legendary sideline stalkers have turned in their retirement cards, from UNC’s Roy Williams to Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and even Villanova’s Jay Wright called it quits.

Now we have our first legendary women’s coach to call it a career, and this one is a groundbreaking pioneer on various levels.

Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer, who’s been in the coaching realm for five decades, has retired at age 74.

The Scarlet Knights coach stepped away in April 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and to avoid getting sick, while also caring for her family.

The legend’s retirement will become official Sept. 1.

In a press release accompanying the announcement, Stringer reflected on her career and how long she’s been able to do it at the highest-level.

“I am officially announcing my retirement. My life has been defined by coaching and I’ve been on this journey for over five decades. It is rare that someone gets to do what they love for this long and I have been fortunate to do that. I love Rutgers University for the incredible opportunity they offered me and the tremendous victories we achieved together. There’s always a soft spot in my heart for the University of Iowa and Dr. Christine Grant for giving me my first major coaching position, when me and my husband trusted her to move our family to Iowa. She was a strong believer in women’s rights and that’s a responsibility that I have championed and will continue to take up the fight for.”

 

Stringer Reflected On Her Career, Which Began At Cheyney State

While Stringer never won a national title, she had three of the more memorable Final Four runs ever. None was bigger than her 1982 run to the Final Four with Cheyney State. It was the school’s first year as a D-1 program.

Stringer took the Scarlet Knights to Final Fours in 2000 and 2007. None of those three teams was projected to advance that far. The success of those unheralded teams exemplified the greatness of Stringer, and how she’s always been able to connect with student-athletes.

 

 

Stringer reflected on that run in her press release and how the recent 40-year celebration of that team played a role in her decision to step away.

 

“After recently celebrating the first women’s Final Four team at Cheyney State University, where it all started, it sat with me that I have been at this a long time. It is important to step aside and challenge others to step aside and challenge others to step up and take this game forward. I am forever indebted to all the coaches who I worked beside. Some were former players, some were colleagues, but all were friends and family at the end of the day and were my most trusted relationships. To the young ladies that I was fortunate to have coached and mentored into the women and leaders of today, keep pushing the barriers, keep pushing for your spot at the table, and always know who you are.”

 

 

Stringer shocked the college basketball world by leading her women to the final game of the 1982 season, losing to the Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters. The late John Chaney — who later became the longtime coach at Temple — led the men to the D-II title in 1978, as he and Stringer did tons to advance Black coaches.

 Stringer Is Only Black Coach With Over 1,000 Wins

Boasting a 1055-426 career record, Stringer became the first Black coach to reach 1,000 wins in 2018.

She also won two Big East Coach of the Year and two Big Ten Coach of the Year awards. She collected 251 wins at Cheyney State, 269 at Iowa and 535 at Rutgers. While it was a hard decision to step away, being that she’s been at it for 50 years (since 1972), the game is better because of her contributions to the game, dedication to her craft and commitment to the students and the institutions she represented.