Coquese Washington to coach Rutgers' women's basketball program, 'a tremendous honor'

Coquese Washington will take over as coach of the Rutgers women's basketball program following the recent retirement of legendary coach C. Vivian Stringer, the school announced Monday.

"I am beyond thrilled with the opportunity to be here at Rutgers, a university that excels both academically and athletically," Washington said in a release. "Following in the footsteps of Hall of Fame coaches Theresa Grentz and C. Vivian Stringer is a tremendous honor. ... Standing on their shoulders to guide this program is going to be a wonderful adventure, and our family is eager to get to Piscataway and become a part of this remarkable community."

Washington's extensive coaching career includes 12 seasons as head coach at Penn State (2007-2019), where she won Big Ten coach of the year and led the Nittany Lions to the Big Ten regular season crown three times. In her tenure, during which she combined a 209-169 record (98-107 in Big Ten play), Penn State earned four consecutive NCAA tournament berths that featured a pair of Sweet 16 appearances in 2012 and 2014.

Washington also served multiple stints for a total of 10 years on the staff at Notre Dame, her alma mater, most recently as the associate head coach for Niele Ivey. In all during her time in South Bend, she helped the Fighting Irish to five Sweet 16s and the 2001 NCAA championship. She also spent the 2019-20 campaign as the associate head coach at Oklahoma under Sherri Coale.

Prior to her coaching career, Washington was part of the 2000 Houston Comets squad that won a WNBA championship and served as the first president of the WNBA players' association. Washington will be tasked with making relevant once more, in an increasingly competitive Big Ten conference, a storied Rutgers program that last advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2009.

The Scarlet Knights went 11-20, including 3-14 in league play, this past season with Tim Eatman serving as acting head coach while Stringer was on leave. While at the helm, Stringer guided Rutgers to eight Sweet 16s and two Final Fours, including the 2007 national title game, where it fell to Tennessee. Under Stringer and Grentz, Rutgers took home a combined 17 conference regular season and tournament titles.

Washington's contract at Rutgers runs through 2027-28, the school said, and guarantees total compensation at $4.625 million.

"We are excited to welcome Coquese and her family to Rutgers," added Rutgers athletic director Pat Hobbs in the release. "It is important that the next leader of our women's basketball program be someone with a proven track record of winning, exemplary leadership and great character. Coquese is the perfect fit on all those criteria. She is someone who is hard-working, passionate and dedicated to building a championship program and that commitment extends equally to the success our student-athletes will have off the court. I look forward to Coquese leading this next chapter of the program and continuing the legacy that has come to define Rutgers women's basketball."