Charlaine Vivian Stringer has always been a winner—starting in high school, when she won a lawsuit allowing her to become her hometown high school’s first African American cheerleader in almost 10 years. Some 50 years later, in 2018, she became the first African American college basketball coach to win 1,000 games. More than half of her total career wins came at the helm of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
Stringer graduated from Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, where she played basketball, softball, volleyball and field hockey. In 1971, at the age of 23, she became head coach of the women’s basketball team at Cheyney State, an historically black university near Philadelphia. Over 12 seasons, she coached the Wolves to 251 wins, reaching the NCAA’s championship game in 1982. In 1983, she moved to Iowa State, where she built a previously losing program into a Big Ten powerhouse, winning 269 games in 12 seasons and reaching the Final Four in 1993.
When Stringer came to Rutgers in 1995, it was yet another opportunity to turn around a forlorn program. After losing records in her first two seasons, Stringer’s Scarlet Knights went 22-10 in 1998 and reached the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16. In 25 seasons with Rutgers, Stringer totaled 535 victories and gained 17 NCAA tournament berths, taking her team to the Final Four in 2000 and 2007. She retired after the 2022 season.
Stringer’s overall coaching record of 1,041-421 ranks her fifth all-time among NCAA women’s basketball coaches. The first coach in college basketball history to take three different teams to the Final Four, Stringer was named national coach of the year three times. In 2009, she was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame alongside Michael Jordan and other greats.
Stringer also served the game of basketball as an administrator and an international coach. Among other international achievements, she was an assistant coach for the bronze-medal 1980 USA Jones Cup team; head coach for the 1989 U.S. World Championship Qualifying Team; and an assistant with the gold-medal 2004 U.S. Olympic Team. Stringer was one of the key players in the development of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.
Upon her retirement from RU, Stringer said: “It is rare that someone gets to do what they love for this long and I have been fortunate to do that.”