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Coach Makes History but Can't Stop Slide

Athletic Director Phillips becomes first woman to coach Division I men's basketball team in Tennessee State's 17th consecutive loss.

February 14, 2003|From Associated Press

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — Teresa Phillips proved that a woman can coach a men's college basketball team.

Getting a victory, however, might require more than she or the Tennessee State players can muster.

Phillips made history Thursday night by becoming the first woman to coach a men's Division I team, but her presence couldn't stop the Tigers from losing for the 17th straight time, 71-56, at Austin Peay.

Afterward, Phillips announced she would not coach the team again. She's returning to her day job as the school's athletic director, and interim Coach Hosea Lewis will resume his duties after serving a one-game suspension for a benches-clearing brawl during a game against Eastern Kentucky on Monday night.

"I have to hang up my whistle already. I'm officially retired," Phillips said.

She's not going away completely. Assistant coach Chris Graves and several of the players asked her to keep helping at practice following the team's best performance of the conference season.

Tennessee State (2-21, 0-12 Ohio Valley Conference) looked much better than its record indicated. Nine days earlier, the Tigers lost on their home court to Austin Peay (16-6, 9-2) by 25 points.

Phillips coached women's teams for 19 years and was head coach at Fisk and Tennessee State, compiling a record of 212-189. But she hadn't worked the sideline for the last three years, since she joined Tennessee State's administration.

The historic night wouldn't have been possible without the fight that broke out in the second half of Tennessee State's 89-72 loss at Eastern Kentucky on Monday night. Nineteen players were ejected, including two key Tennessee State players, Josh Cooperwood and Cedric Bryson. Lewis also was ejected.

Nolan Richardson III, the son of the former Arkansas coach, quit as Tennessee State coach last month after admitting he brought a gun to an argument with Lewis, who then was his assistant.

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