December 7, 2023
C. Vivian Stringer named 2024 Naismith Outstanding Contributor to Women’s Basketball
Coach Stringer's impact will be recognized by Naismith throughout the 2023–24 season
Today, C. Vivian Stringer was named one of two winners of the Naismith Outstanding Contributors to Basketball 2024. It’s not the first Naismith Award for Coach Stringer, who was honored as the 1993 Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year during her stint at Iowa.
The honor is bestowed annually on one contributor to the women’s game and one to the men’s, intended for those who have created a “long-lasting positive impact on the game of basketball.” There’s no question that Coach Stringer has done just that.
Stringer’s impact goes beyond her wins on the court, often recognized as a mentor, trailblazer, and for her love of the college game. “The blessings of this coaching life have been seen in countless ways through my family and several generations of student athletes, all women who shared my love of the game and took great pride in representing their schools,” Coach Stringer told the Atlanta Tipoff Committee. “These same women have grown into fine professionals in their own right, including so many who have gone on to compete in professional basketball leagues.”
“The honor of the 2024 Naismith Outstanding Contributor to Women’s Basketball award acknowledges what I have worked to achieve. I am so grateful for this special recognition and am, likewise, humbled by it,” Stringer continued. “If I represent the tenets of the award, ‘character, integrity, and dignity,’ I hope that I have shared the same with my players and coaching staffs over the years. They continue to inspire and uplift me.”
Coach Stringer retired from coaching in 2022, after a fifty year career as a head coach and amassing 1,055 wins, the fifth most in women’s college basketball history. Stringer made meaningful impacts at Cheyney State College (1972–1983), University of Iowa (1983–1995), and Rutgers (1995–2022), and was named as a finalist for the Naismith Award five additional times. She coached Cheney State, an HBCU outside of Philadelphia to the 1982 title game. When she led Iowa to their first Final Four in 1993, she was named the Coach of the Year by the Sports Illustrated, USA Today, Converse, the Los Angeles Times and the Black Coaches Association, in addition to the Naismith Award.
At Rutgers, she reached the Elite Eight five times, and was the tournament runner-up in 2007, coaching greats like Cappie Pondexter, Tasha Pointer, and current WNBA All-Star Kahleah Copper along the way. In 2018, during her time at Rutgers, she became the first African American coach in college basketball history to reach 1,000 wins.
When she retired in 2022, Dawn Staley addressed Coach Stringer as “an example, a mentor, an icon. I have admired you as a coach for so many years. As a player and later coaching against you. So much of what we are able to accomplish in women’s basketball today is because of what you have done.”
Former player Kahleah Copper noted that her former coach “knows, as a leader, how to motivate every single player,” keying on their own styles to encourage and push them. “She loved the game. She always wanted to teach, and never wanted us to settle for anything less,” Copper added.
Coach Stringer has been inducted into three Hall of Fames: The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame (2001), the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame (2006), and the Basketball Hall of Fame (2009). She served on the USA Women’s Basketball coaching staff, and won a gold medal in 2004 as the assistant coach for the US Olympic Team. In 2004, she was honored with the Black Coaches Association Lifetime Achievement Award.
Atlanta Tipoff Club executive director Eric Oberman said of Stringer: “We are incredibly honored to recognize these individuals who excelled in basketball competition on the court, and then went on to devote the majority of their lives to enhancing and growing the game. It’s rare enough to win a Naismith player of the year or coach of the year award, but to accomplish that feat and then be recognized later in life for outstanding contributions to the game is truly special.”
Coach Stringer will be honored alongside Bill Walton, who was a repeat Naismith Trophy winner as a player. The full list of honorees for Outstanding Contribution to Women’s Basketball can be found here.