ATLANTA (Aug. 12, 2020) — The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association announced today that it has joined the National Association of Basketball Coaches’ Committee on Racial Reconciliation in supporting the West Coast Conference’s “Russell Rule.” The WBCA’s newly formed Social Justice Task Force recommended the association support the initiative as a means of promoting diversity in the candidate pools when colleges fill coaching vacancies.
“The WBCA commends the West Coast Conference presidents and Commissioner Gloria Nevarez on their adoption of the ‘Russell Rule,’ “ said WBCA Executive Director Danielle Donehew. “It is a groundbreaking initiative that member coaches of both the WBCA and NABC believe is a significant step in efforts to promote diversity in the hiring practices within intercollegiate athletics. We hope that all other collegiate conferences follow the WCC’s lead.”
Named for Boston Celtics great Bill Russell, who played collegiately for the University of San Francisco, a current West Coast Conference member, the “Russell Rule” is a conference-wide diversity hiring commitment that requires each WCC member institution to include a member of a traditionally underrepresented community in the pool of final candidates for every athletic director, senior administrator, head coach and full-time assistant coaching position in its athletic department. Announced on Aug. 3, the rule was unanimously adopted by the presidents of the league’s 10 member institutions.
“The NABC commends the WCC on this forward-thinking initiative, and encourages other college athletics conferences to adopt similar policies,” said NABC Executive Director Craig Robinson. “Improving diversity among coaches and administrators in college athletics has long been a shared goal of the NABC and WBCA, and we believe the Russell Rule is a positive step in that direction.”
The WBCA’s Social Justice Task Force functions under the auspices of the association’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee and is focused on promoting racial equality in three areas: hiring practices, training and education, and advocacy and awareness. The task force held its first meeting on July 14. In addition to recommending the WBCA support the “Russell Rule,” the task force has also launched the #TakeChargeAndVote social media campaign to educate coaches and their teams about history, facts and statistics on suffrage in the U.S. and the importance of voting, and is working to provide educational programming and give a voice to coaches on social justice issues.
“Historically, athletics have played an active role in social justice, and I am humbled to do my part serving in this capacity for the WBCA,” said Tracy Ellis-Ward, Social Justice co-chair, Big East associate commissioner and a member of the WBCA Diversity & Inclusion Committee. “The entire task force is devoted to making a tangible difference for women’s basketball.”
“I am honored to serve in this capacity. I believe wholeheartedly in the racial justice movement sweeping our nation,” said Charmin Smith, Social Justice Task Force co-chair, University of California-Berkley head coach, and WBCA Board of Directors and Diversity & Inclusion Committee member. “Collegiate sports is a great place to pilot transformational change. This is a phenomenal group of people that is committed to finding ways to improve our sport generally and more specifically for the black coaches, staff and players that the WBCA serves.”
In addition to Ellis-Ward and Smith the task force is composed of the following individuals:
- Tyler Bates, head coach, Loudonville High School (Ohio).
- Diahann Billings-Burford, CEO, RISE.
- Bo Browder, head coach, Xavier University of Louisiana.
- Blake DuDonis, head coach, University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
- Josh Edwards, assistant coach, College of Southern Idaho.
- Shawn Heilbron, athletic director, Stony Brook University.
- Gene Hill, head coach, Georgia State University.
- Takiyah Jackson, director, African American Student Development Office and Fannie Lou Hamer Black Resource Center, University of California, Berkeley.
- Christy Martin, head coach, Saint Martin's University.
- Delise O'Meally, CEO, Institute for Sport and Social Justice, University of Central Florida.
- Brian Rosario, assistant coach, Pepperdine University.
- Coquese Washington, associate head coach, University of Notre Dame.
For more information on the “Russell Rule,” visit the West Coast Conference website at www.wccsports.com. To stay up-to-date on programming, initiatives, resources and education from the WBCA Diversity & Inclusion Committee and the WBCA Social Justice Task Force, visit the WBCA Diversity & Inclusion page and follow the WBCA on social media (@WBCA1981).
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 those 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.
About the NABC
Located in Kansas City, MO, the NABC was founded in 1927 by Phog Allen, the legendary basketball coach at the University of Kansas. Allen, a student of James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, organized coaches into this collective group to serve as Guardians of the Game. The NABC currently has nearly 5,000 members consisting primarily of university and college men’s basketball coaches. All members of the NABC are expected to uphold the core values of being a Guardian of the Game by bringing attention to the positive aspects of the sport of basketball and the role coaches play in the academic and athletic lives of today’s student-athletes. The four core values of being a Guardian of the Game are advocacy, leadership service and education. Additional information about the NABC, its programs and membership, can be found at www.nabc.com.
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