The WNBA’S Male Coaching Problem

It’s jarring watching a league so steeped in meaningful social justice work fail at such an important component of equality, the hiring process.

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Source: WNBA

Eight out of the twelve head coaches in the WNBA are men. In the head coaching space, these are mediocre men who failed to find success at other levels of coaching. The WNBA doesn’t need to be a golden parachute for failed male coaches nor does it need to be a jumping off point for a career. Derek Fisher is a bad coach. He has been a bad coach at every level. He was a terrible coach for the Knicks and that qualified Fisher to take over one of the most storied franchises in WNBA history. He has no experience coaching women nor any experience successfully coaching anybody. Walt Hopkins went to Harvard, did some coaching while running a business and landed a head coaching job in one of the biggest markets in the League. Hopkins was an assistant coach for a few year, and got a nice player development gig and then a big time coaching job. He shouldn’t be a head coach in the WNBA. He’s young, white, Harvard educated and got pushed to the front of the line in a league that prides itself on representation and social justice.

Aces- Bill Laimbeer

Wings- Brian Agler

Sun- Curt Miller

Mystics- Mike Thibault

Storm- Mike Hughes

Sky- James Wade

Liberty- Walt Hopkins

Sparks- Derek Fisher

There are four teams with women as the head coach. In the WNBA. What’s worse about the hiring of these men is that the men don’t have to be at the pinnacle of the field. Fisher, Hopkins and even Curt Miller were all bestowed Head Coaching jobs in major markets without the experience or credentials.

Source: WNBA

Curt Miller and Bill Laimbeer are accomplished WNBA coaches with a history of playoff success and finals appearances. They worked in the WNBA system and made a name in women’s basketball. A cursory glance at the resumes of the four women coaches tells a story of women who had to be the best coaches in their colleges history and then work in lower levels to fight to get a head coaching gig in the WNBA. Nicki Collen has a pretty quick ascent to head coaching in the WNBA but she was a terrific player and was an assistant at multiple colleges and for the Connecticut Sun. Marianne Stanley was the best coach in Old Dominion history, a literal Women’s basketball hall of famer, had coached at every level multiple years to finally get another shot in Indiana after a short stint in Washington. Cheryl Reeve was a fantastic coach at Indiana State before grinding her way into the WNBA head coaching scene. Brondello’s story is the same, a legend overseas and a great coach who worked her way into an interim role before becoming the head coach.

Source: WNBA

Why is the WNBA another place where men are given preferential treatment over qualified women? Clearly being a good player as a man lends them more credibility than a women who was also a hall of fame player with extensive coaching experience. It’s not just the head coaches either, it’s the assistant coaches as well. Anecdotally, the sidelines of a WNBA game look just like the sidelines of an NBA game and that’s not ideal. It has to be disheartening to be a woman trying to make it in the field knowing you have to be the best at everything you do to get to the top when mediocre men will get a shot before you. That’s not what this league is supposed to be about. If the WNBA doesn’t value women as coaches who will? This all seems in direct opposition to the values of the league. Watching the WNBA double and triple down on being a woke league the lack women on the sidelines is genuinely depressing. 63% of the coaches in NCAA div. I Women’s basketball are women. The WNBA is at 33%. That’s unacceptable.

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My education is in Counseling (M. Ed). I love the Browns, Knicks, Retro Gaming, and Pro Wrestling. I've been a student affairs professional for a decade.

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