May 26, 2022 

What Coquese Washington brings to the Rutgers program

'She has done it all'

Rutgers is hiring Coquese Washington as its next head coach, the school announced Monday in a news release. Those who know her and who played for Rutgers’ retired coach C. Vivian Stringer say she has what it takes to maintain Stringer’s massive success.

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Washington returns as a head coach after parting ways with Penn State in 2019 after 12 seasons. During her time at Penn State, Washington’s teams won the Big Ten Regular Season title three times, in 2012, 2013 and 2014. The Nittany Lions also advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in 2012 and 2014. In addition, she won Big Ten Coach of the Year three times, in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

After leaving Penn State, Washington spent a year as associate head coach at Oklahoma and in 2020, she returned to her alma mater, Notre Dame as the associate head coach.

During her time at Penn State and at Notre Dame, she signed 12 top-25 recruiting classes. In addition, her teams’ graduated six All-Americans, 17 All-Big Ten players and 12 WNBA players.

“The thing you can say about coach Washington is that she’s done it all,” Rutgers athletic director Pat Hobbs said. “Why is that important? That’s important because when young women come here and want to play for the Scarlet Knights, they have a role model when they walk in the door. They can look at her and say there are many paths to success following my time playing as a student-athlete.”

Washington succeeds C. Vivian Stringer retired after 27 seasons as the Scarlet Knights’ head coach in April. Stringer had been on paid leave since April 2021 for unspecified reasons. She brought Rutgers to the Final Four for the first time in program history in 2000. They made their first title game in 2007.

Former player Kia Vaughn, a member of the 2007 team and current Atlanta Dream center, praised the hire. She said she hopes Washington’s teams have a similar sense of identity to Stringer’s.

“I’m really happy a Black woman got the opportunity,” Vaughn said. “They’re opening the door for everyone. When I’m done, hopefully, she wants to have me as an assistant coach. I’ll be there. But overall, opportunity, that’s all we need as women.”

Prior to coaching, Washington played college basketball at Notre Dame, setting the steals-per-game record at 2.7. After that, Washington played in the WNBA for six seasons, winning a WNBA title in 2000 with the Houston Comets. She was the founding president of the WNBA Players Association from 1999-2001. Washington led negotiations for their first-ever collective bargaining agreement.

Washington received a six-year contract through 2027-28 worth 4.625 million guaranteed.

Rutgers returns just three players next season, with three 2022 signings joining them. The Scarlet Knights saw eight players enter the transfer portal at the end of the 2021-22 season.

“I’ve had one conversation with our team,” Washington said. “I’m excited about their energy and their passion for Rutgers. They love this place. Like most programs across the country, you look at the transfer portal that rosters are in flux. It’s a little premature to talk about the roster at this point because it’s not complete. It’s not rock solid, so I’m not ready to comment on that.”

Written by Gabriela Carroll

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