PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Coquese Washington has been named the third full-time head coach in the history of Rutgers women’s basketball. A three-time Big Ten Coach of the Year during her 12-year tenure at Penn State, Washington (first name pronounced ko-KWEES) most recently served as associate head coach at Notre Dame for two seasons. She arrives “On the Banks” with 22 years of experience program building and coaching championship-caliber basketball.
“We are excited to welcome Coquese and her family to Rutgers,” said Athletic Director Pat Hobbs. “It is important that the next leader of our women’s basketball program be someone with a proven track record of winning, exemplary leadership and great character. Coquese is the perfect fit on all those criteria. She is someone who is hard-working, passionate and dedicated to building a championship program and that commitment extends equally to the success our student-athletes will have off the court. I look forward to Coquese leading this next chapter of the program and continuing the legacy that has come to define Rutgers women’s basketball.”
“The tradition of the women’s basketball program at Rutgers is one of excellence both on the court and in our classrooms. I have every hope and expectation that Coach Washington will expand on that tradition and I look forward to sharing in her success at the Jersey Mike’s Arena,” said Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway.
Washington comes to Rutgers after two seasons at Notre Dame, marking her second coaching stint in South Bend after serving as assistant coach for her alma mater from 1999-2007. She earned her first head coaching position at Penn State, where she became the first female African-American head coach in the school’s history, and went on to lead the Lady Lions to three Big Ten titles and four NCAA Tournaments. Washington also spent the 2019-20 season as associate head coach at Oklahoma.
“I am beyond thrilled with the opportunity to be here at Rutgers, a university that excels both academically and athletically,” said Washington. “Following in the footsteps of Hall of Fame coaches Theresa Grentz and C. Vivian Stringer is a tremendous honor. They exemplify achieving high levels of excellence with grace, class, integrity and dignity. The way they blazed trails and impacted the lives of student-athletes and coaches, beyond the ones on their teams, is nothing short of amazing. Standing on their shoulders to guide this program is going to be a wonderful adventure, and our family is eager to get to Piscataway and become a part of this remarkable community.”
Rutgers Athletics and Washington agreed to a six-year contract from 2022-23 through 2027-28, that guarantees total compensation at $4.625 million with additional performance incentives.
During her most recent two seasons at Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish returned to the national scene with an appearance in the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2022. The Sweet 16 run marked Washington’s 10th season on the sidelines in South Bend following an eight-year stint as an assistant under Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Muffet McGraw, highlighted by eight consecutive NCAA Tournaments, four NCAA Sweet 16 appearances, and the 2001 NCAA Championship.
The Washington era at Rutgers signals the head coach’s return to the Big Ten. From 2012-14, the Lady Lions claimed three consecutive Big Ten regular-season titles, becoming one of four programs in conference history to win three or more regular-season crowns in a row. She guided Penn State to Sweet 16 appearances in 2012 and 2014 while developing 17 players to All-Big Ten status on 32 separate occasions.
Washington earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors three times (2012-14), WBCA Regional Coach of the Year twice (2012, 2013), and was named a finalist for WBCA National Coach of the Year two times (2012, 2013). She was also selected as the 2011 and 2014 Black Coaches Association (BCA) Female Coach of the Year.
Her programs’ success has mirrored her prowess on the recruiting trail, where she signed 12 top-25 recruiting classes throughout her coaching career at Notre Dame and Penn State. After recruitment came development as Washington mentored six All-Americans and 13 future WNBA professionals. During her tenure at Notre Dame, Washington was directly responsible for developing three All-Americans and two Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award winners – Niele Ivey (current Notre Dame head coach) and Megan Duffy. Washington also worked with Alicia Ratay, who is the NCAA’s career three-point field goal percentage leader.
A student of the game, Washington enjoyed success in the college ranks and later as a professional in the WNBA. During her time in an Irish uniform, Washington rewrote the record books with 554 career assists (seventh all-time) and 307 career steals (third all-time). Her 2.7 steals-per-game career average still holds the top spot in South Bend. Washington was just as impressive in the classroom, earning her undergraduate degree in just three years and, later, earning a juris doctorate from Notre Dame Law School in 1997 to become a “Double-Domer.”
Washington then played six seasons in the WNBA and won a WNBA title with the Houston Comets in 2000. She followed the Comets’ championship season with another strong campaign in 2001, ranking among the Top 10 in the WNBA in assists (ninth) and steals (fourth) as the Comets made their fifth consecutive playoff appearance. Midway through the 2002 season, she was traded to the Indiana Fever, where she guided that club to its first-ever playoff berth and became the first player in WNBA history to lead three different squads to the postseason.
She was a key figure in helping create the WNBA Players Association (WNBPA), serving as the founding president of the WNBPA from 1999 until 2001. She served as the executive vice president of the WNBPA from 2001 until her retirement in 2003. Washington led negotiations for the association’s first collective bargaining agreement, and as executive vice president, was a mainstay in the negotiations for the league’s second collective bargaining agreement, which brought about the first free agency system in women’s professional sports.
Washington’s service to the game has gone beyond coaching. She served on the WBCA Board of Directors and led a committee tasked to grow the game of women’s basketball. She won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2013 World University Games and served on the USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Committee from 2009-12. She was a member of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund Board of Directors from 2012-15 and served five years on the NCAA Women’s Basketball Issues Committee.
A native of Flint, Michigan, Washington was inducted into the Greater Flint Area Sports Hall of Fame in December 2009. Washington and her husband, Raynell Brown, have two children, Quenton and Rhaiyna.
|Birth Date||January 17, 1971|
|High School||Flint Central|
|Washington Coaching File|
|2020-22||Associate Head Coach||Notre Dame|
|2019-20||Associate Head Coach||Oklahoma|
|2007-19||Head Coach||Penn State||3x Big Ten Regular-Season Champions
2012, 2013, 2014
|2005-07||Associate Head Coach||Notre Dame|
|1999-2005||Assistant Coach||Notre Dame||2001 National Champions
2001 Big East Tournament Champions
|Washington Head Coaching Record – Penn State|
|Season||Overall||Big Ten Conference||Standing||Postseason|
|2009-10||17-14||8-10||T-6th||WNIT 1st Round|
|2010-11||25-10||11-5||2nd||NCAA 2nd Round|
|2011-12||26-7||13-3||1st||NCAA Sweet 16|
|2012-13||26-6||14-2||1st||NCAA 2nd Round|
|2013-14||24-8||13-3||T-1st||NCAA Sweet 16|
|2016-17||21-11||9-7||T-6th||WNIT 3rd Round|
|2017-18||16-16||6-10||11th||WNIT 1st Round|
By the Numbers
In 22 years, Coquese Washington has recruited, developed, and coached…
33 All-Conference selections in the Big East and Big Ten
13 WNBA professionals
3 Big East Defensive Players of the Year
2 Big Ten Players of the Year
2 Big Ten Freshmen of the Year
2 Big East Freshmen of the Year
1 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year
1 Big Ten Sixth Player of the Year
Awards & Honors
Big Ten Coach of the Year (2012, 2013, 2014)
WBCA Region 6 Coach of the Year (2012, 2013)
WBCA National Coach of the Year Finalist (2012, 2013)
BCA Female Coach of the Year (2011, 2013)
Greater Flint Hall of Fame Inductee (2009)
WBCA “Rising Star” Award Winner (2008)
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