SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Legendary Kansas Women’s Basketball coach Marian Washington has been announced as one of 12 finalists for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023. The announcement was made Friday on NBA TV.
Washington is one of 12 finalists for the award, joining Jennifer Azzi, Gene Bess, Gary Blair, Pau Gasol, Becky Hammon, David Hixon, Gene Keady, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Gregg Popovich and Dwyane Wade. The Class of 2023 announcement will be made on April 1, with Enshrinement Weekend to follow on August 11-12 in Springfield.
The legendary career of Coach Washington included 31 seasons as the head coach of the Jayhawks. Washington led Kansas to a record of 560-363 from 1973-2004 to become the winningest coach in program history.
Following her first season as the women’s basketball coach in 1974, Washington started KU’s intercollegiate women’s track and field program and served as the head coach during its first year. She was also the first Athletics Director for Women’s Athletics at the University of Kansas from 1974-79.
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. She played for the national team from 1969-71, which included the 1971 World Championship in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In 1982, she became the first African-American woman to serve as the coach of a United States international team. Washington was also the first to coach on an Olympic women’s basketball staff, serving as an assistant on the 1996 gold-medal winning team.
At Kansas, Washington guided the Jayhawks to 11 NCAA Tournament appearances, reaching the Sweet 16 twice. She also led KU to two WNIT appearances and three AIAW Sectional finishes while claiming seven league titles and six conference tournament championships. Washington was honored as a conference Coach of the Year on three occasions, receiving Big Eight recognition in 1992 and 1996 and she was named the first Big 12 Coach of the Year in 1997.
Washington received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Black Coaches Association (BCA) in 2003 and she was twice named the BCA Coach of the Year in 1992 and 1996. She was the first female to serve as president of the BCA as well as the first individual to serve consecutive terms as president of the organization.
Washington played collegiately at West Chester State University, where she was a member of the first women’s national championship team. Her West Chester State team finished unbeaten and won the National Women’s Invitational Tournament in 1969, defeating Western Carolina for the title.
Being inducted into a Hall of Fame is nothing new for Washington. While still coaching at Kansas, she was inducted into the West Chester State Women’s Athletic Hall of Fame. She was originally inducted in 1988 for her playing career and in 2000 she became a member of the West Chester State Athletic Hall of Fame when the school’s various Hall of Fames became consolidated. Following her retirement from KU, Washington was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in the Class of 2004.
The University of Kansas proudly boasts its rich basketball history as 20 former Jayhawk basketball student-athletes and coaches – 19 men (one two times) and one woman – have been enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The latest Kansas addition was Paul Pierce, who was inducted in 2022. Overall, Kansas has seen its coaches and players named to the Hall of Fame 21 times, the most of any Division I school. The Hall of Fame is named in honor of the game’s inventor and first KU head coach, Dr. James Naismith.
Kansas Women’s Basketball great Lynette Woodard, who played for Washington from 1977-81, was enshrined in the Naismith Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2004. Current Kansas Men’s Basketball coach Bill Self was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017.
In January 2020, Kansas Athletics announced the creation of the Marian E. Washington Trailblazer Series, which recognizes the notable achievements and accomplishments of African Americans who have helped shape the Jayhawk program. Each February, in conjunction with Black History Month, the endeavor chronicles several prominent African Americans and their impact on Kansas Athletics.
More recently, Kansas hosted the Marian E. Washington Legacy Reunion in November 2022. The weekend celebrated Washington’s accomplishments during her tenure with Kansas Athletics and her impact on women’s athletics overall, specifically on the sport of women’s basketball.