Hall of Fame basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer announced her retirement on Saturday morning through a press release. Stringer’s retirement will become effective on September 1, 2022 and will be paid $872,988 per the agreement. In addition, Rutgers announced the court at Jersey Mike’s Arena will be officially named the C. Vivian Stringer Court with a dedication ceremony taking place next season.
Rutgers also announced that a national search for her replacement will begin immediately. Stringer did not coach this past season after being on a leave of absence since April 2021. She ended any speculation on Saturday in announcing she would not be returning to the bench.
“I am officially announcing my retirement,” said Stringer. “My life has been defined by coaching and I’ve been on this journey for over five decades. It is rare that someone gets to do what they love for this long and I have been fortunate to do that. I love Rutgers University for the incredible opportunity they offered me and the tremendous victories we achieved together. There’s always a soft spot in my heart for the University of Iowa and Dr. Christine Grant for giving me my first major coaching position, when me and my husband trusted her to move our family to Iowa. She was a strong believer in women’s rights and that’s a responsibility that I have championed and will continue to take up the fight for.
“After recently celebrating the first women’s Final Four team at Cheyney State University, where it all started, it sat with me that I have been at this for a long time. It is important to step aside and challenge others to step up and take this game forward. I am forever indebted to all the coaches who I worked beside. Some were former players, some were colleagues, but all were friends and family at the end of the day and were my most trusted relationships. To the young ladies that I was fortunate to have coached and mentored into the women and leaders of today, keep pushing the barriers, keep pushing for your spot at the table, and always know who you are.
“This was the hardest decision of my life, but I thank God he has allowed me to do the thing I love most. I am ready to start my new journey and spending more time with my family, children, and grandchildren. I am truly blessed to have had so many wonderful people in my life.”
In Stringer’s 50 years as a head coach, she achieved 1,055 wins, four Final Four appearances, and 28 NCAA Tournament appearances at stops at Cheyney State, Iowa, and Rutgers. She was the first men’s or women’s basketball coach to lead three different college programs to the Final Four after doing so with all three schools she has coached.
Only the second full-time head coach in Rutgers women’s basketball history, she won 535 games at Rutgers since taking over the program in 1995. Stringer led RU to 17 NCAA Tournaments, including 10 straight from 2003 to 2012, as well as two Final Four appearances in 2000 and 2007, when the Scarlet Knights advanced to the NCAA Championship Game.
In 2018, Stringer became the fifth NCAA Division I women’s basketball coach to reach 1,000 career wins and was the first African-American coach to ever accomplish that feat. She is ranked fifth all-time with 1,055 career victories in women’s college basketball. She is the NCAA record holder with 37 seasons of 20 or more victories. Per the press release, “Stringer received the John R. Wooden Award “Legends of Coaching” honor based on character, success on the court, graduation rate of student-athletes in their basketball program, coaching philosophy, and identification with the goals of the John R. Wooden Award.”
21 student-athletes who have played for Stringer have been selected in the WNBA Draft, with many others having played professionally overseas.
“Coach Stringer is a titan in college basketball, inspiring generations of student-athletes and coaches to pursue excellence on and off the court,” said Rutgers Athletic Director Pat Hobbs. “As the first coach to lead three different programs to the Final Four, she will continue to be mentioned along with the game’s other great Hall of Famers. Her place in the history of the game is cemented, but more remarkable is the legions of young women whose lives she helped shape.”
“Coach Stringer’s impact has been felt across our campuses, around the state and throughout the nation. She is an icon whose accomplishments on and off the court are as remarkable as they are inspiring,” said Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway.
“Naming the court at one of the most notable venues in college basketball after her is a fitting and indelible tribute to one of the greatest coaches of all time,” he added.
Stringer’s team’s were known as tough and defensive minded. She crafted the “55 defense” that was an aggressive, pressing style that put tremendous pressure and wore down opponents. Her teams were ranked the No. 1 defense nationally in 1981, 1983 and 1993 and No. 2 in 1985, 2005, 2006 and 2008.
Stringer led her teams to nine NCAA Tournament Regional Finals (1982, 1987, 1988, 1993, 1999, 2000, 2005, 2007, 2008). She had 17 players selected to All-Big Ten teams, including one Defensive Player of the Year, as well as 41 All-BIG EAST honorees that included four Defensive Players of the Year.
In addition to her accomplishments in women’s college basketball, Stringer was successful with the international game as well. She served as an assistant coach for the gold-medal 2004 U.S. Olympic Team, Stringer played a role in the development of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. Stringer also serves on the Board of Directors of the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund and in partnership with the V Foundation for Cancer Research, is an initiative to fight breast cancer.
Stringer has been inducted in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and the New Jersey Hall of Fame.
Congratulation to coach Stringer on a legendary career!