Hoop Dreams

In basketball, talent plus hard work equals success. That’s an equation that holds true for women as well as men, and in recent years, dedicated female athletes have raised women’s basketball to new heights and won the allegiance of many new fans.

But what about their coaches? Do any obstacles stand between them and their dreams? Marianne Stanley didn’t think so when she began coaching women’s basketball for the University of Southern California, where she earned $64,000 a year– a fair sum, one might think, but less than half that of her counterpart, George Raveling, who coached the men’s team. True, Raveling had been coaching for thirty-one years, had been an assistant on the U.S. Olympic team, and was twice named coach of the year. But Stanley was no slouch. She had been head coach for sixteen years and won three national championships. In her last two years at USC, she had win-loss records of 23-8 and 22-7, which compared favorably with Raveling’s 19-10 and 24-6.

So when her initial four-year contract expired, Marianne Stanley sought pay parity with Raveling. Stanley knew that Raveling was also earning tens of thousands of dollars in perks, but she was willing to overlook that and settle for an equal base salary of $135,000. Instead, USC offered Stanley a three year contract starting at $88,000 and increasing to $100,000. When she rejected that offer, USC countered with a one-year contract for $96,000. Stanley declined the offer and left USC, her hoop dreams diminished, although she later began coaching at UC Berkley, where her salary was equivalent to that of the men’s coach.

For his part, George Raveling didn’t mind Stanley’s making as much money as he did. But he understood why USC paid him more. He was, after all, a hot property, and if USC was going to prevent his being lured away by some other university trying to boost its basketball program, then it had to pay him a high salary. By contrast, Marianne Stanley didn’t have any other job offers.

Too bad, one might say, but that’s how the market works in a capitalist society. But what if the market itself is discriminatory? Defenders of comparable worth argue that it is and that coaches like Stanley can’t negotiate for comparable salaries because women’s basketball isn’t valued as highly as men’s. And it’s college administrators, they argue, who are to blame for that. As one feminist puts it:

The women didn’t get the advertising and marketing dollars.  They didn’t get the PR.  Then when fans weren’t showing up, the TV stations weren’t carrying the games and other universities weren’t fighting over the best coaches, administrators told the women that, because they and their sports didn’t draw as much attention as men, they shouldn’t be paid as much.

In response, defenders of USC deny that it or any other university is responsible for the fact that men’s sports are big revenue earners and women’s are not.  The higher pay for those who coach men simply reflects that social and cultural reality, which is something college administrators have no control over.  If someone like Marianne Stanley wants to enter the big leagues, then she should coach men.


Sadly, sometimes even those who have fought against discrimination can discriminate against others.  In 2002 Sharrona Alexander, formerly an assistant women’s basketball coach at UC Berkeley, filed suit against the university, alleging that head coach Marianne Stanley told her to get an abortion or lose her job.  Stanley denies the abortion allegation, but admits that she did ask Alexander to resign because of her pregnancy.  Either way, a champion of women’s rights was guilty of trampling on someone else’s hoop dreams.  Ironically, Stanley herself played college basketball when she was pregnant (returning to practice eleven days after her daughter was born) and went on, single and with a toddler, to coach Old Dominion University to three national championships.  Moreover, some sports commentators believe that, far from being a handicap, motherhood can give a coach an edge in recruiting because parents of prospective recruits prefer their daughters to be coached by women who, when they say that they treat their teams as family, know what they are talking about.  In addition, Arizona State coach Charli Turner Thorne says, because “you’re taking young ladies at a very formative time, you have to play the parent role.”  She adds, “There’s absolutely no doubt [motherhood] makes me a better coach.”


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5 Comments so far

  1. jiva on March 29, 2011 8:57 am

    1) What should Cynthia do? What ideals, obligation, and effects should she take into account when making her decision?
    2) Would it be unprofessional of Cynthia to drop everything and move to Crytex? Would it show a lack of integrity? Could moving abruptly to Crytex have negative career consequences for her?
    3) Is it morally wrong, morally permissible, or morally required for Cynthia to take the new job? Examine Cynthia’s choice from a utilitarian point of view. How would Kant and Ross look at her situation?
    4) What does loyalty to the company mean, and how important is it, morally? Under what circumstances, if any, do employees owe loyalty to their employers? When, if ever, do they owe loyalty to their coworkers?

  2. jiva on March 29, 2011 9:15 am

    plz ans 4 me

  3. Nad on April 29, 2011 1:58 pm

    where can I find the answers of this questions?

  4. Teacher1 on August 2, 2011 11:54 pm

    “plz ans 4 me” Sweetie, no one is going to do your homework for you. Also, it’s “please answer for me.” To write it the way you did makes you sound quite illiterate.

  5. Teacher1 on August 2, 2011 11:55 pm

    And uh, “Nad,” you can LOOK. Yourself. That’s where you find answers. Keep looking, that’s how you learn. Don’t rely on everyone to tell you-use some initiative!

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