Thursday, January 23, 2014
- by B.B. Branton
"Jim has an incredible passion for our
sport ... he is such a class act and does everything with the utmost integrity …
I couldn't be happier for him to be getting his 800th win and I'm sure there
are many more to come!"
-- Notre Dame head coach
Jim Foster wore a suit and tie when he won his first college
game as a head coach at St. Joseph’s in Dec. 1978.
Thirty-five years later the game-day suits are long gone,
but the victories have continued as this women’s college basketball hall of
famer has his first shot at No. 800 this Saturday.
Known for his sweater attire for three decades and his
uncanny ability to have his players compete at a high level on the court and in
the classrooms, coach Foster is 799-310.
“It makes no sense to dress up and sweat,” said Foster in
response to why he wears sweaters minus the coat and tie.
His wife Donna also adds, “We didn’t have much money in
those early years at St. Joseph’s and he was wearing out too many suits. We
were not on a Gucci-type budget.”
As the Philadelphia, Pa. native goes for No. 800, the Lady
Mocs seek their 35th straight home court win and 25th straight Southern
Conference win against SoCon foe Samford at 4 p.m. in McKenzie Area on ESPN3.
The game should be billed as “Sweater Day at McKenzie” as
fans could do their best impressions of coach Foster in a dark blue or black
Ironically, Samford is the last team to beat UTC in McKenzie
posting a 68-66 win in the SoCon tournament, Mar. 5, 2011.
Known for down-playing milestone wins in exchange for
focusing on the “only thing that matters is the two hours on Saturday”,
Foster’s dry humor response to the umpteenth question on is winning No. 800
important to him was, “is someone going to buy me dinner.?”
Yet many have indeed provided celebration dinners for the
1980 Temple U. grad and “a fan of team with Philadelphia on the front of the
jersey” as he has led three NCAA D-I schools to 26 trips to the annual Big
Dance each March.
A remarkable basketball coach, Foster has 200-plus wins at
St. Joseph’s (248-126), Vanderbilt (256-99) and Ohio State (279-82) and now 16
victories in his first season at UTC.
Not only has he has excellent teams, but quality assistant coaches.
Two of his former assistants – Geno Auriemma (UConn) and
Muffet McGraw (Notre Dame) – have undefeated teams in the top five this season.
"Jim has an incredible passion for
our sport and is a true advocate for women's basketball,” said Notre Dame head
coach Muffet McGraw.
“He is such a class act and does
everything with the utmost integrity. I'm proud to call him not only a mentor,
but a friend, and someone who has had a tremendous impact, not only on my
career, but on those of so many other coaches and student-athletes. I couldn't
be happier for him to be getting his 800th win and I'm sure there are many more
For two hours this Saturday, coach Foster will have his 'class act' and 13 talented players at McKenzie Arena in search of another SoCon win and victory No.800.
contact B.B. Branton at email@example.com