🏀 Kansas Dedicates Marian E. Washington Women’s Basketball Suite

LAWRENCE, Kan. – A ceremony was held on Friday afternoon to dedicate the newly-named Marian E. Washington Women’s Basketball Suite in Allen Fieldhouse.

On hand to speak at the dedication to Washington, the legendary former Jayhawks Women’s Basketball Coach, were Kansas Director of Athletics Travis Goff and current head coach Brandon Schneider. Also in attendance to honor Coach Washington were members of her family, former women’s basketball players, current and former Kansas Athletics staff and the current Kansas Women’s Basketball team.

“As I think about Coach, terms that are commonly used have been trailblazer, pioneer, incredible leader and mentor of many,” Schneider remarked to the crowd. “All are appropriate and very accurate, but as I’ve gotten to know her even better, a word that kept coming to my mind that I think really describes her is fighter. I think about the courage that it had to take in her time to fight the necessary battles that were unpopular to fight and it’s that courage that I tremendously respect and admire.”

"We could not be more proud to be able to walk into a facility that has your name on it. That is going to be something that we treat with tremendous respect."

Kansas Women's Basketball Coach Brandon Schneider

Washington is the winningest coach in Kansas Women’s Basketball history, compiling a 560-363 record for the Jayhawks from 1973-2004. Following her first season as the women’s basketball coach in 1974, she started KU’s intercollegiate women’s track and field program and served as the head coach its first year. She was also the first Athletics Director for Women’s Athletics at the University of Kansas from 1974-79.

“I was able to watch Coach Washington from afar and glean some of those things she did early in my career,” Goff said, “What I noticed is that she served young people every step of the way. She provided opportunities that otherwise would have not been there and mentorship that was truly unprecedented during the course of her time. Since she’s left KU, she’s continued to do just that and we are so proud to be able to unveil this tribute to her.”

From an early age, Washington was a trail blazer as she was the first of two black women to play on a United States National Team from 1969-71. In 1982, she became the first African-American woman to serve as the coach a United States international team. She’s also the first to coach on an Olympic women’s basketball staff, serving as an assistant on the 1996 gold-medal winning team.

“I want to thank this university and this athletic department for this remarkable honor,” Washington told the crowd after unveiling the suite signage with the help of current Jayhawks Holly Kersgieter and Chandler Prater. “I was given the opportunity to serve as the first and only women’s athletic director and women’s basketball coach when this university hired a young, black woman, and gave me the opportunity to serve. This university stood by me despite racism, sexism and inequality and with the help and support of my family and friends, we made history and we paved the way for women to excel in any sport.”

Washington, who was 27-years old when hired to coach the Jayhawks, was the face of Kansas Women’s Basketball for 31 seasons. She led the Jayhawks to the NCAA Tournament 11 times in addition to the AIAW Tournament (pre-NCAA) another four times. Her Jayhawk teams won 20 or more games 17 times in addition to seven conference championships and six more conference tournament titles.

"When I look at this women’s facility, it’s second to none. I’m so proud of what this department has done for our women. This is an honor and truly a blessing. I just pray that the efforts of our past will be the spirit which inspires us to achieve excellence in the future."

Legendary Kansas Women's Basketball Head Coach Marian Washington

Kansas Athletics is planning the Marian E. Washington Celebration Weekend in November 2022 for a full and formal celebration for Washington and her contributions to the University.

Kansas Jayhawks
LAWRENCE, KS - October 22, 2021 - Marian Washington Women’s Basketball Suite unveiling in Lawrence, KS. Photo by Missy Minear/Kansas Athletics