Last year, it was announced that among others, Carolyn Peck would be inducted into the 2023 class of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. According to The Tennessean, the ceremony will take place this weekend in Knoxville, TN. She is the first Black woman head coach who has won an NCAA championship but she credits South Carolina basketball head coach, Dawn Staley for partially making her entry into the Hall of Fame possible.
Saturday, April 29, Peck, who is currently a basketball analyst for ESPN will join the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame along with Cathy Boswell, Donna Lopiano, Lisa Mattingly, and Lindsay Whalen. She coached Purdue University’s woman’s basketball team from 1997-99 and led them to the Elite Eight in her first season as head coach. She coached Purdue to win the national championship title in 1999, but she never got the recognition she deserved for doing so.
“We’re reading newspaper articles and going, ‘Why aren’t they talking about us?’ ” Peck said. “We accomplished this. We just beat this team. Ukari Figgs is all of that, and nobody’s talking about her. Why?”
Not only was Peck the first Black woman to ever win an NCAA women’s basketball championship, but she is also one of only four coaches to win a women’s basketball national title within their first two seasons as a head coach. Cathy Rush, Margaret Wade, and Marianne Stanley all won their perspective titles during the AIAW (Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women) era, which started in 1971 and ended in 1983. Peck is the only woman head coach who won the national championship in an NCAA Tournament.
South Carolina coach Dawn Staley acknowledged Peck by saying, “We often don’t give credit where credit is due. That’s a story that has been forgotten, and we only talk about the fact that she’s the first Black woman to do it.”
Staley won her first NCAA title as a coach in 2017, and the importance of Peck’s championship was finally grasped 18 years later.
“I don’t really think it mattered that I was the first Black woman to win a national championship until Dawn did it in 2017, and she reminded everyone of what we did,” Peck said.