Sunday's SEC women's tournament final between No. 2 seed South Carolina and No. 4 Georgia will mark the first time two Black head coaches meet in the conference championship game.
The Gamecocks' Dawn Staley will be going for her sixth SEC tournament title, having won in 2015, '16, '17, '18 and '20. Georgia's Joni Taylor will be going for her first; it would be the fifth for the Bulldogs, with the previous four coming under coach Andy Landers. Taylor was named 2021 SEC coach of the year Tuesday.
It also will be the first women's conference tournament final between Black coaches in any of the current Power Five conferences. The ACC women's tournament dates to 1978, the SEC to 1980, the Big Ten to 1995, the Big 12 to 1997 and the Pac-12 (previously Pac-10) to 2002.
Along with Staley, the Black head coaches who have won women's league tournament championships among the current Power Five conferences are Carolyn Peck, who won the Big Ten in 1998 and '99 with Purdue, and Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, who won the Pac-12 in 2014 with Southern Cal.
Kansas coach Marian Washington won the Big Eight women's tournament championship six times between 1979-93 before that league merged with the Southwest Conference to form the Big 12 for the 1996-97 season. Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer won the Big East tournament title in 2007, when that league was considered one of the major conferences. Stringer, whose No. 24 Scarlet Knights are the No. 3 seed in the Big Ten tournament, and Washington, who retired in 2004, are two of the most successful Black coaches in collegiate hoops history. Stringer is in the Naismith Hall of Fame, and both she and Washington are in the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.
The SEC women's tournament final, in Greenville, South Carolina, will be at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN2. If Georgia wins, Taylor, who played for Alabama, would be the second former SEC player to win the league tournament as a head coach. Former Tennessee coach Holly Warlick, who also played for the Lady Vols, won ahe tournament title in 2014.
Three other former SEC women's players have reached the SEC final as head coaches, but didn't win the title: Florida's Carol Ross in 1997 (played for Ole Miss), LSU's Pokey Chatman in 2005, '06 and '07 (played for LSU) and LSU's current coach Nikki Fargas in 2012 (played for Tennessee).