Washington made it clear she would not be able to deal with her health issues and continue to coach the balance of the 2003-04 season or the 2004-05 season which would have been her 32nd as head coach at Kansas. She added: "To try to do that would be unfair to my student-athletes, my coaches and to the University of Kansas."
The reaction, the outpouring of love for this highly esteemed woman who just happens to be a tremendously skilled basketball coach, has been emotional, universal and remarkably consistent which is a solid indication of the high regard in which she is held.
Listen closely to Kathleen Hickert, a former player and president of the Lady Jayhawks booster club. "It's a huge, huge loss. I cannot emphasize that enough. "I hurt, and my heart aches. My first concern is her health because I want her to get well, but I wanted her to get well and come back."
Jennifer Jackson, another former player said: "She's given of herself for 31 years and done so much for so many women, and for the game of basketball itself. For so long she has been Kansas basketball, and I think that's really telling in the way that that everyone who has played for her feels about her."
Mark Mangino the Jayhawk football coach said: "I have only come to know Marian in recent years, but I've always been impressed by her dedication and hard work. A lot of young people have benefited from her expertise and devotion to the sport. I wish her the very best. She is truly a legend."
Washington, who as the old saying goes "walked where angels fear to tread" was fearless in her pusuit of improving women's athletics. She was responsible for creating untold opportunities for women athletes. While revered by most Washington had her critics. Neither the critics nor the unwarranted criticism impeded the consistent progress she made, it never showed, at least not on the outside.
Perhaps, her friend since Washington's first days on campus and a KU professor Renate Mai-Dalton put it best when she said: "A lot of people who have been critical of her over the years have never known who they're talking about, and that's so sad." She's just a person that cannot be replaced."
Mai-Dalton continued: "She has always said her mission is to educate young people and prepare them to be good people and good athletes and I think that is truly what she has done."
Lew Perkins the AD at Kansas had this to say about Washington: "I want her to take care of herself. That's the most important thing. I respect her decision, and have told her we have a place for her for as long as she wants one."
In addition Perkins commented: "Marian Washington has been a pioneer, a leader, a mentor and a terrific basketball coach. It's not a business for her, it's a passion."
"I told her tonight that we're saying goodbye as a coach, but not goodbye to our family or friendship," Perkins said. "I really believe in my very short period of time here she has enriched my life. She will always be part of this if she chooses to be."
Marian Washington in honesty and humility which so typifies her life said: "My mission in life has been to make a difference, especially in the lives of young people, and to use the arena of athletics to help develop good character as well as athletic talent." All who know her will agree she has accomplished her mission.
Make no mistake about it; Marian Washington was an excellent basketball coach. In her 31 season tenure at Kansas Washington coached the Jayhawks to a 560-363 (.607) record. Under her guidance Kansas reached the 20-win mark 17 seasons, winning seven league crowns and six conference tournament championships.
She led the Jayhawks to 11 NCAA postseason Tournament appearances and twice went to the Sweet Sixteen. Additionally the Lady Jayhawks enjoyed two trips to the WNIT postseason Tournament. Washington was named conference coach of the year three times. While at Kansas Washington coached four All-American players and three academic All-Americans. Washington earned the distinction of being the first and only Athletics Director for Women’s Athletics at Kansas serving in this role over a five year period in the mid-late 70's.
She was the first African-American to coach on an Olympic women's basketball staff serving as an assistant on the 1996 U.S. Olympic gold medal winning team. She was the first African-American woman to serve as head coach for a U.S. international team guiding the 1982 U.S. Select team to a silver medal in Taiwan.
Washington was named Coach of the Year by the Black Coaches Association twice and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the BCA in 2003. She was the first female to be elected president of the BCA and the first person to serve consecutive terms as president of the Black Coaches Association.
Washington played her collegiate ball at West Chester State University in Pennsylvania, achieving AAU All-American status twice and helping lead the Golden Rams to a national title in women's basketball, the first ever in the history of collegiate women's basketball. In June of 2004 Marian Washington received the national recognition she so richly deserved when she was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.
During her time as a basketball coach Washington has served in a variety of roles while receiving recognition for her many contributions to the game. She has been a member of the national officiating committee, a member of the Kodak All-American Selection Committee as well as the Women's Basketball Coaches Association board of directores. In addition she has twice been named Coach of the Year by the Black Coaches Association, the Outstanding Black Women in Sports Awardfrom Ebony Magazine and been inducted into both the West Chester Stare and KU Halls of Fame respectively.
In 1991 Washington received the Carol Eckman Award named after the late West Chester State women's basketball coach who is recognized as the "Mother of the Women's Collegiate Basketball Championship." Eckman was responsible for organizing the first women's basketball championship in 1969. With this well deserved honor Washington moved into some pretty heady company within women's collegiate basketball coaching circles. Other winners to name a few include Jody Conradt of the University of Texas, Kay Yow of North Carolina State, Sue Gunter of Louisiana State, Kathy Delaney-Smith of Harvard University and Marsha Sharp of Texas Tech University.
The criteria for this prestigious award exemplifies what these coaches are all about and explains why Washington was chosen to be honored. Criteria for the Eckman award is: *Sportsmanship *Commitment to the student-athlete *Honesty *Ethical behavior *Courage *Dedication to purpose Washington earned her under-grad degree from West Chester State and her masters in biodynamics and administration from the University of Kansas.
Some of her accomplishments are: