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Forty Years Ago an HBCU Played in the First Women’s Final Four. Today the Program Is Gone. – Sports Illustrated

Four days before Selection Sunday, one of college basketball’s most hallowed halls lies almost entirely dormant. Only a single person, Tammy A. Bagby, the director of athletics at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, is inside working in her office, a mere chest pass from the entrance to the arena floor. On this sleepy Wednesday in mid-March, the gym’s retractable bleachers are pushed in. A few Wilson basketballs are scattered across the court, while a chalkboard and equipment for shooting drills sit nestled in one corner. Three banners hang on the opposite end, remnants of a time when Alfred Cope Hall was home to dominant men’s and women’s basketball teams.

Among the signs is one honoring the school’s 1978 men’s NCAA Division II championship, though it’s slumping ever so slightly thanks to a missing zip-tie at the top. Another banner, placed just to its right, lists the successes of the women’s program. Chief among them is finishing as the runner-up at the ’82 women’s NCAA Division I tournament, the first time the competition had taken place.

George Tiedemann/Sports Illustrated

Cope Hall is likely the most historic building in the sport that you’ve never heard of. Built in 1961, there are plenty of modern-day high school facilities with better physical amenities. Still, Cheyney, the oldest HBCU in the United States, and its Cope Hall were once home to two basketball trailblazers: John Chaney and C. Vivian Stringer. Both were on campus together at what was then known as Cheyney State College. Only three universities—UConn, North Carolina and Cheyney—have had future Naismith Hall of Fame men’s and women’s basketball head coaches employed at the same time. And the energy that used to course through the arena’s veins, “You can compare it to Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke,” says Debra Walker, a forward on the ’82 team. “It wasn’t a matter of winning in Cope Hall. It was how much are we gonna win by.”

But this winter, 40 years after Walker and her teammates reached the sport’s most important game, there were no cheers for the Lady Wolves. Racked by financial uncertainty and the COVID-19 pandemic, the university did not sponsor a women’s basketball team for the second consecutive season. Bagby says she is in the process of hiring a new coach and restarting the program for the 2022–23 campaign. But much has changed since its glory days.

As Bagby works on the reboot, there are more ongoing efforts than ever before to pay homage to the historic 1982 run and all that it represented. Among them: Last weekend, for the first time, a luncheon was hosted on campus in their honor. “I felt what those women did cannot go unrecognized. It shouldn’t go unrecognized,” says Kyle Adams, a Cheyney alumnus and former Lady Wolves coach who helped plan the event. In recent years, there has also been a movement, led by Adams, to see the group commemorated in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. And next year, per Adams, they will appear on the …….

Source: https://www.si.com/college/2022/03/31/cheyney-basketball-c-vivian-stringer-daily-cover

Four days before Selection Sunday, one of college basketball’s most hallowed halls lies almost entirely dormant. Only a single person, Tammy A. Bagby, the director of athletics at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, is inside working in her office, a mere chest pass from the entrance to the arena floor. On this sleepy Wednesday in mid-March, the gym’s retractable bleachers are pushed in. A few Wilson basketballs are scattered across the court, while a chalkboard and equipment for shooting drills sit nestled in one corner. Three banners hang on the opposite end, remnants of a time when Alfred Cope Hall was home to dominant men’s and women’s basketball team…….

Four days before Selection Sunday, one of college basketball’s most hallowed halls lies almost entirely dormant. Only a single person, Tammy A. Bagby, the director of athletics at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, is inside working in her office, a mere chest pass from the entrance to the arena floor. On this sleepy Wednesday in mid-March, the gym’s retractable bleachers are pushed in. A few Wilson basketballs are scattered across the court, while a chalkboard and equipment for shooting drills sit nestled in one corner. Three banners hang on the opposite end, remnants of a time when Alfred Cope Hall was home to dominant men’s and women’s basketball team…….

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