Christine Brennan of USA Today posted a story last night about the disturbing trend of hiring practices of Head Coaches in women's athletics. Northwestern was tied for 13th out of 76 schools. The list was comprised of the schools from the five major conferences (Big Ten, ACC, SEC, Big 12, Pac 12), plus some select other schools.
Northwestern and Illinois were both ranked in the upper quarter, while DePaul was at only 28.6 percent.The Tucker Center for Education and Human Development put the report out. They graded each school depending on their percentage.
Illinois received a B with 55 percent of their women's teams headed by women, Northwestern a C at 50 percent and the Blue Demons a D at 28.6 percent.
Although Northwestern might have only gotten an average grade by the CEHD, the have quality over quantity. Lacrosse coach Kelly Amonte-Hiller might be the best Head Coach in any sport, women or men nationally. She has won seven national titles, eight national championship game appearances. Her career record is an unfathomable 215-33, including 34-3 in the NCAA Tournament.
The 2005 lacrosse title was the first in a team sport in Northwestern history. Amonte-Hiller accomplished something that seemed virtually impossible, she established a national dynasty at Northwestern.
Claire Pollard also turned Northwestern tennis into a dynasty. She led the Wildcat women to 11 consecutive Big Ten titles from 1999-2009. They added another conference title in 2012.
Pollard was hired in '99 to take over a Northwestern program that been had been extremely successful, but only 24-24 the previous two seasons.
She was quoted on NUSports.Com that more emphasis needed to be placed on the tennis.
When I first came to Northwestern," Pollard says, "the girls were focused primarily on academics over athletics. I strove to combine them so they didn't have to choose. I wanted to provide them with the ability to excel at both."
While Pollard took over a previously successful program, Softball coach Kate Drohan succeeded arguably the greatest coach in Northwestern athletic history prior to Amonte-Hiller's arrival. Sharon Drysdale led the Northwestern softball program for 22 years, coaching in four different decades.
Drysdale led NU to a .560 winning percentage overall and a .586 winning percentage in the Big Ten. The Wildcats made three Women's College World Series Appearances between 1984-86 and won five Big Ten titles during her tenure.
Drohan has taken Northwestern to another level. They finished as the national runner up at the WCWS to Arizona in 2006 and have a .646 winning percentage under her guidance.According to her bio, the Wildcats also became the first private school to reach the national semifinals in back to back seasons in 2006 and 2007.
Although NU maybe only be at 50 percent, the leadership of Amonte-Hiller, Pollard and Drohan have helped reshape the image of Northwestern athletics. Under their leadership, NU should continue to push forward to become one of the best overall athletic programs in the Big Ten.