ATLANTA (March 8, 2023) — Coquese Washington, head coach at Rutgers University, is the recipient of the 2023 WBCA Carol Eckman Integrity in Coaching Award, the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association announced today.
The Carol Eckman Integrity in Coaching Award is named in honor of the late Carol Eckman, the former West Chester State College coach, who is considered the “Mother of the Women’s Collegiate Basketball Championship.” Eckman organized and conducted the first women’s basketball championship in 1969 at West Chester State (now known as West Chester University). She continued to garner recognition and support for the women’s game until her death from cancer in 1985. The WBCA presents the award annually to an active member coach who exemplifies Eckman’s spirit, integrity and character through sportsmanship, commitment to the student-athlete, honesty, ethical behavior, courage and dedication to purpose.
“The WBCA is honored to present the 2023 Carol Eckman Integrity in Coaching Award to Coquese Washington,” said WBCA Executive Director Danielle Donehew. “Coquese has served her peers as a longtime member of the WBCA Board of Directors, a WBCA past president, and currently as a member of the WBCA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. She has a deep love for her peers and the profession. Coquese has so many talents and a legal mind. We celebrate her many successes as a student-athlete, professional player, and coach. This award recognizes the way she conducts her business with integrity and her heart for others.”
Washington was named the third full-time head coach in the history of Rutgers women's basketball on May 23, 2022. She arrived "On the Banks" with 22 years of experience program building and coaching championship-caliber basketball. During her first year at the helm of the Scarlet Knights, Washington guided the program to the 1,000-win milestone as well as picking up her own 100th Big Ten victory.
Washington returned to the Big Ten after serving as the head coach at Penn State for 12 seasons. From 2012-14, the Lady Lions claimed three consecutive Big Ten regular-season titles, becoming one of four programs in conference history to win three or more regular-season crowns in a row. She guided Penn State to two Sweet 16 appearances in 2012 and 2014 while developing 17 players to All-Big Ten status on 32 separate occasions. Washington earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors three times (2012-14), WBCA Regional Coach of the Year twice (2012, 2013), and was named a finalist for WBCA National Coach of the Year two times (2012, 2013). She was also selected as the 2011 and 2014 Black Coaches Association (BCA) Female Coach of the Year. In addition, The Flint, Michigan product served stints at her Alma Mater Notre Dame and as well as Oklahoma.
After finding success during her collegiate career with the Fighting Irish, where she still ranks in the record books, Washington wen onto play six seasons in the WNBA, winning a Championship with the Houston Comets in 2000. After being traded to the Indiana Fever in the middle of the 2002 season, she once again made history, guiding the club to its first-ever playoff berth and becoming the first player in WNBA history to lead three different squads to the postseason.
Washington was a key figure in helping create the WNBA Players Association (WNBPA), serving as the founding president of the WNBPA from 1999 until 2001. She served as the executive vice president of the WNBPA from 2001 until her retirement in 2003. Washington led negotiations for the association's first collective bargaining agreement, and as executive vice president, was a mainstay in the negotiations for the league's second collective bargaining agreement, which brought about the first free agency system in women's professional sports. Washington's service to the game has gone beyond coaching. She served on the WBCA Board of Directors and led a committee tasked to grow the game of women's basketball and served five years on the NCAA Women's Basketball Issues Committee. She won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2013 World University Games and served on the USA Basketball Women's Junior National Committee from 2009-12. She was a member of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund Board of Directors from 2012-15 and founded the Pennsylvania Pink Zone, which fundraised and dispersed over $3 million through Play4Kay initiatives. Through Coquese’s Drive, Washington also raised close to $225,000 for the fight against domestic violence.
"Receiving this award is incredibly humbling and a tremendous honor. I have passionately loved this game ever since I can remember,” said Washington. “Basketball has had such a strong impact on my life in so many ways, for so many years. I’ve been blessed to work with amazing players, exceptional assistant coaches, encouraging administrators, and wonderful mentors throughout my coaching journey. To know that my work as a coach in this game has resonated with others is truly touching. Thank you WBCA for selecting me for the Carol Eckman Integrity in Coaching Award."
The Carol Eckman Award was first presented in 1985. To see a list of past recipients, visit www.wbca.org/recognize/.
About the WBCA
Founded in 1981, the Women's Basketball Coaches Association is the professional association for coaches of women's and girls' basketball at all levels of competition. The WBCA offers educational resources that coaches need to help make themselves better leaders, teachers and mentors to their players; provides opportunities for coaches to connect with peers in the profession; serves as the unifying voice of a diverse community of coaches to the organizations that control the game; and celebrates those coaches, players and other individuals who excel each year and contribute to the advancement of the sport. Visit WBCA.org for more details about the association.
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