On Wednesday, NJ Advance Media’s Keith Sargeant reported that Rutgers women’s basketball head coach C. Vivian Stringer has not been with the program since April due to concerns related to COVID-19. Associate head coach Tim Eatman has been in charge of the team in her absence and will represent Rutgers at Big Ten Media day in Indianapolis, Indiana later this week.
Sargeant’s report cited Stringer is not with the program in an effort to “not get sick and to care for her family, including her daughter, Janine, 40, who has needed special care since contracting spinal meningitis at age 2.”
The report stated it is believed that Stringer is using sick time accumulated during her tenure at Rutgers and that the vaccination status of her and her players are not known.
Last season, Stringer led Rutgers to a third place finish in the Big Ten for the second time in the past three years, as well as to the program’s 18th NCAA Tournament appearance in her tenure. The 73 year old Hall of Fame coach signed a five year contract extension this past April worth $5.5 million.
Regardless of whether Stringer ultimately returns or not, her legacy at Rutgers and in women’s college basketball is extraordinary. Stringer is the only coach to lead three different programs to the Final Four and is the fifth winningest coach of all time with a 1,055-426 record in 50 seasons overall. At Rutgers, Stringer has a 535-291 record over 26 seasons that includes two Final Four appearances and a WNIT Championship.
Eatman served as interim head coach at the end of the 2018-2019 season when Stringer stepped away from the team due to exhaustion. The Scarlet Knights advanced to the Big East Semifinals and NCAA Tournament with Eatman coaching the final seven games of that season.
The Scarlet Knights full schedule with TV listings and tip-off times was released earlier this week. Our full review of the schedule is here for a team that welcomes eight newcomers, including six transfers.
In Sargeant’s report, Rutgers officials indicated Stringer could return at any point before the start of this season against St. Peter’s on November 9. At the end of the day, the health and wellbeing of Stringer and her family are the most important thing. Whatever Stringer ultimately decides, she has cemented her status as a Rutgers and coaching legend.
To watch and read Eatman’s press conference from Big Ten Media Day on Thursday, click here.