NBA Commissioner Adam Silver would be “hugely disappointed” if the NBA doesn’t hire its first female head coach within the next five years.
The Commissioner made the comments to Bonnie Bernstein on the NCAA’s podcast channel Thursday.
“I would be hugely disappointed if certainly in five years we haven’t seen our first female head coach in the NBA,” said Silver.
On the podcast, the veteran sports TV journalist interviewed Silver and WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert as part of her nine-part series, “Title IX College Sports Conversations with Bonnie Bernstein,” analyzing the 50th anniversary of Title IX.
The NBA’s first female head coach is overdue, according to Silver. Many younger NBA players have mothers who played college basketball or even in the WNBA.
“This generation coming in grew up differently, and has a different sensibility about roles men and women can play in the workforce. I’ve said this before, as much as professional sports has led and the WNBA and NBA have led in certain areas, we’re a bit behind in this area,” Silver said. “We should have more women head coaches. We should have a female head coach right now. We should have more women referees, and it’s something we’re working very hard on right now.”
In recent years, seven female coaches have been hired as NBA assistants. The league has also hired more female referees.
Silver cited former San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon as a woman who could eventually lead an NBA team. Hammon interviewed for the head coaching job with the Portland Trail Blazers before leading the Las Vegas Aces to their first WNBA title.
Dawn Staley, head coach at the University of South Carolina, has also been cited as a candidate for an NBA head coaching job. Julianne Sitch of the University of Chicago recently made history as the first female coach to lead an NCAA men’s soccer team to a national championship.
Bernstein noted Silver helped write the original business plan for the WNBA.
“For as long as I’ve known him, dating back 20-plus years to his time at NBA Entertainment, Adam’s been a proponent of having women in key leadership positions. While he’s obviously not dictating coaching hires, or officiating hires, his voice carries an extraordinary amount of weight,” she told Front Office Sports.
“It not only moves the needle in basketball circles, it influences all of sports. So, for him to be as vocal as he was about the NBA being behind the eight ball when it comes to women in coaching and officiating, that’s an incredibly powerful statement.”