LSU announced a couple of weeks ago now that they had found a new head coach for the women's basketball team. They hired Van Chancellor, a former WNBA, Olympic, and intercollegiate coach. I did not blog about it then because all I had to say about it was this:
I am certainly not surprised LSU went with a male coach.* I am pleased that at least it is a coach who has substantial experience coaching women's basketball but I think LSU could have made a strong statement by hiring a woman and I worry about the repercussions the Chatman incident will have on other hiring decisions.
But I had nothing else of substance to say about the decision. The New York Times, however, has delved a little deeper. The article examines the decline of female head coaches and cites the big names in the sport sociology/sport management field who all, not surprisingly, agree that the fear of predatory lesbians is a huge factor in the lack of women head coaches in intercollegiate athletics. This is still despite the fact that there are far more incidents of abuse and misconduct by male coaches.
But the big problem--before an athlete even gets to a school--is recruiting, according the article. Negative recruiting, where coaches not so subtly let recruits know where, allegedly, the lesbians coach and play, is rampant. And athletes' families are also asking those questions about who is and who isn't and what the "policy" on homosexuals is.
UMinnesota professor Mary Jo Kane reported on a conversation she had with a female coach who said the best personal situation for a female coach is to be divorced (to affirm heterosexuality) and without kids (to be free to travel extensively).
The author also interviewed UConn head coach Geno Auriemma who said he doesn't think the Chatman situation will impede women coaches and points to people like Gail Goestenkors who just left Duke for Texas and Joanne McCallie who left Michigan State for Duke.
Not great examples if one considers that Goestenkors is divorced and McCallie is married with young children.
* Interestingly, Carla Berry, the assistant coach who alerted administrators to Chatman's misconduct, has resigned and it looks like will not be returning to coaching. Not sure who Chancellor will choose to replace her. An all-male coaching staff would certainly send the signal that LSU is trying to wash its hands of any remaining lesbian stigma, but might also come across as overkill.