We aren't getting any closer to pursuading Stevens, Smart, or any other top men's basketball coaches to move to UCLA...so let's do something bolder: Hire a top women's coach. There may be some locker room limitations, but if Geno Auriemma can coach women at Connecticut for decades, why can't a woman coach men? There are several reasons we should do this:
- We will make a profound statement that UCLA goes for the best, regardless of gender. If any school should take the lead, it is UCLA. Our students, alumni, and faculty have a history of breaking through barriers and stereotypes. Arthur Ashe, Ralph J. Bunche, Jackie Robinson, and Michael Chang immediately come to mind.
- We will truly attract the best in the game. Coaches at Baylor, Stanford, and other top programs have proven they can win big year after year...but can they do it in the men's game? What competitive and goal-driven coach wouldn't jump at the chance to be the maverick who rockets through the glass ceiling? Why stay at the same school to keep collecting championships when there's a new and more inspiring challenge to surmount? UCLA can offer that challenge, and for some of the best female coaches in the game, it would be irresistible.
- We will get 100% commitment. Any female coach who came to UCLA would be devoted to proving herself. Knowing she is a pioneer, she would give it her all and she'd be loyal to the employer who gave her the chance. She would become a Bruin with all her heart.
- We will attract tremendous media attention. Hiring a woman would be a huge story, not just nationally, but internationally. No male coach, not Donovan, not Pitino, not even Krzyzewski, could attract the level of media exposure UCLA would enjoy day after day and year after year.
- We will immediately differentiate ourselves from every other school in the field. A key to competitive greatness in virtually any field is to offer something no one else has. No other D-I school has a female coach. (The first female to coach a D-1 men's college basketball game was Teresa Phillips at Tennessee State, who coached one game in 2003. Rick Pitino had a female bench coach, Bernadette Mattox, at Kentucky from 1990-1994.)
- Players' mothers will love us for it. What recruit's mother (or any student's mother, for that matter?) would not instantly respect and even love UCLA for making such a bold hire? Is there any better recruiting advantage than getting an ally in the mother of every top basketball player in the country?
- We will save money. Very few top women's coaches make seven figures, whereas every top men's coach does. UCLA would need to pay a high salary to show it values women highly, but it still would probably pay less and not have as many penalty clauses as men's coaches have, if only because the market demand is lower and the coach would be an unproven commodity in the men's game.
- Fans will support our Bruins in droves. We will instantly give every female student, alumna, and fan in general a fantastic reason to come to Pauley and every place we play on the road. In March Madness, we'd attract the otherwise neutral fans to our side at each venue in which we'd play, giving us an instant injection of crowd support.