By Tom Luicci
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (May 21, 2014) – As gratifying as winning the WNIT was last season for Rutgers women’s basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer, it left her wanting more.
Now she will be able to do something about that feeling.
With Stringer and Rutgers finalizing a new four-year contract today, the Hall of Fame coach will shepherd the program into its inaugural Big Ten season this winter. Her current deal expires June 30.
“This gives me an opportunity to finish my career at Rutgers and I’m pleased about that,” Stringer told Scarletknights.com. “It gives me another opportunity to achieve some of the championship-related things that have always been my desire and to build off what has been an excellent step in that direction with the success we had last year with so many young people.
“Now we can accomplish that in the Big Ten – which, in our opinion, is the best conference in the country.”
Stringer said the contract agreement allows her to focus fully on basketball and on what she termed “unfinished business.”
“I’m looking forward to trying to win a national championship,” she said. “That’s my purpose in the first place.”
Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann said it’s apparent that Stringer is driven to put the Scarlet Knights back among the nation’s elite.
“When you spend time with Vivian you can see she is inspired,” Hermann said. “Her energy for the game is vibrant, powerful and unrelenting.”
After directing Rutgers to a 28-9 record last year that was capped by the WNIT title, Stringer owns a 929-341 (.731) record for her 43 seasons as a head coach. That includes a 409-206 mark for her 19 seasons at Rutgers, with 14 of those resulting in NCAA Tournament appearances.
The Big Ten, Stringer acknowledged, represents an entirely new challenge, in large part because of the quality depth the league has.
“I’m excited about the Big Ten,” she said. “It’s obviously a deep league. Top to bottom and across the whole spectrum of things it’s the best academic and athletic conference in the country. It really is. And I’m excited to be a part of it. I’m happy with it. I’ve always felt that Rutgers’ footprint was here, that it was always here.”
Stringer says she often draws inspiration from the movie “Men of Honor,” which stars Cuba Gooding Jr. and Robert DeNiro and chronicles the story of the Navy’s first African-American master diver.
“I’m driven like that,” she said. “It doesn’t even matter what the motivation is, because it has always been part of my fiber anyway. I have that movie. I made about 12 copies because I want the players to look at it. The reason why I watch it at least once every two weeks is because nothing or no one can take my fire. Nobody. Nothing. I’m driven that way.
“Why? Because it’s in me. And for anyone who doubts that, trust me when I tell you this, we’ll rise. If there’s any breath in my body we will rise. Good things are going to happen. That’s a personal promise. The state of New Jersey is going to be very proud and Rutgers is going to be very proud of us. ”