Rutgers head coach C. Vivian Stringer celebrates her 900th win...

Rutgers head coach C. Vivian Stringer celebrates her 900th win after defeating South Florida on Feb. 26, 2013, in Piscataway, N.J. Credit: AP / Mel Evans

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Six more wins.

That’s all C. Vivian Stringer needs to join an elite group of Division I college coaches who have won 1,000 or more games. When she does, she will be the first African-American and only the sixth Division I college coach overall — men’s or women’s — to reach the mark.

North Carolina’s Sylvia Hatchell and UConn’s Geno Auriemma earned their 1,000th victories this season, joining a group that also includes former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt and Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer. Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski is the only men’s coach to have won 1,000.

Auriemma says what makes Stringer’s path unusual is that she did it at three different schools.

“The majority of coaches who have won 1,000 games have done so at the same school,” he said last week. “Coach K at Duke, Pat Summitt won 1,000 games at the same school. For someone to be at three different schools and to have tremendous success at all three is unusual and admirable. I think her legacy will be as a program-builder as she was able to lift Cheyney State and Iowa to unprecedented heights. At the same time, though, she went to a national championship program like Rutgers and was able to continue achieving excellence there. Those are not easy things to do.”

When Stringer, 69, started coaching at Cheyney State in 1972, she didn’t get paid and played in a gym with a leaky ceiling. Shortly before this season, she signed a four-year contract that pays her a base of $3.4 million over four years.

Though Stringer has never won a national championship, she has made four trips to the Final Four. She took Cheyney State there in 1982, went with Iowa in 1993 and took Rutgers there in 2000 and 2007. She heads into Sunday’s game at Michigan with a career record of 994–395.

“For anyone not to consider this woman a legend in the game of basketball is absurd,” said the WNBA’s Essence Carson, who played on the 2007 team that reached the national championship game. “Leading three different universities to the Final Four, breaking barriers as a female African-American coach, and being up front and outspoken on social issues that affect the lives of those that look like her are just a few things that qualify her as one of the greatest coaches to grace the Earth.”

It’s not a done deal that Stringer will get the wins this season. The team has six games remaining in the regular season plus the Big Ten Tournament and a possible postseason tournament to play in.

Stringer said she tries not to dwell on the whole countdown, but she does realize what a special position she is in.

“A thousand wins,’’ she said. “Wow. It’s a long time. I don’t know what I’m going to do to celebrate it, but do know it’s a very special category. It gives me chills just thinking about it.”


Winningest coaches in college women’s basketball, THROUGH THURSDAY:

1Pat Summitt (1974–2012)1,098

2Tara VanDerveer (1978-)1,028

3Geno Auriemma (1985-)1,014

4. Sylvia Hatchell (1975-)1,004

5. Barbara Stevens (1977-)1,002

6. C. Vivian Stringer (1971-)994

7. Jody Conradt (1973-2007)900

8. Jim Foster (1978-)901

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