Sports Spectrum Magazine Summer 2021

Rutgers' C. Vivian Stringer becomes first African-American to win 1,000 games

C. Vivian Stringer has been breaking barriers for years.

She won a case against her Pennsylvania high school back in the 1950s after initially being barred from the cheerleading team because of her race. She starred as a four-sport athlete at Slippery Rock University. And she became the first person in NCAA history to lead three different women’s basketball programs to the Final Four.

Now, as the longtime coach of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, the 70-year-old Stringer has broken another.

On Tuesday, her team routed Central Connecticut, 73-44, to improve to 3-0 on the season. And in doing so, she became the first African-American coach to win 1,000 games in her career.

A sideline veteran of nearly five decades, Stringer joins a heralded 1,000-victory club that includes just four other Division I women’s coaches — Pat Summit, Geno Auriemma, Tara VanDerveer and Sylvia Hatchell. Almost half of Stringer’s 1,000 wins (480) have come at Rutgers, where she’s guided the Scarlet Knights since 1995. And they are far from the only honor for the distinguished Stringer, who’s already inducted into both the Basketball Hall of Fame and Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

Stringer is often noted not only for setting high marks on the court but for doing so in the wake of her husband’s death, which came just five months before she led Iowa to the 1993 national championship. Like her prestigious career, which has earned her countless Coach of the Year honors, she’s attributed her barrier-breaking path to her Christian faith.

“Our parents taught us love, devotion, discipline, respect for one another and basically held to the Bible tenants,” she told CBN.com. “The only way I could have gotten through these events is with confidence, trust, faith and love in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Stringer’s head coaching career began at Cheyney University in 1972. She spent more than a decade there, racking up a 252-51 record before relocating to the Big Ten Conference with the Hawkeyes in 1983. By her fourth season at Iowa, Stringer began a four-year streak of Elite Eight or Sweet Sixteen appearances, and she finished her time with the school after nine NCAA Tournament bids in 12 seasons. With Rutgers, she’s appeared in the tourney an additional 15 times while winning the WNIT Tournament once.

On her career, Stringer has claimed six Big Ten regular-season championships, four Big East regular-season championships and an NCAA Tournament runner-up spot in 2006-07.

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