Athletic Department To Honor Former Coach Kay James
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The University of Southern Miss Athletic Department will honor former head women's basketball coach and Hall of Famer Kay James, during the halftime ceremonies of the January 24 game between the Lady Eagles and Tulane by officially inducting her into the Golden Eagle Legends Club.
For more than two decades, James molded the entire program into one that challenged yearly for the conference title and the NCAA postseason tournament. James, who coached for 22 seasons at Southern Miss, is the all-time winningest coach in Lady Eagle history with 403 victories. In 27 seasons, James recorded 488 wins against 244 losses. She is one of 46 coaches with 400-plus victories in NCAA Division I history. She also ranks in the top 25 of all-time Division I coaches in victories, seasons coached and games coached.
James was a four-time (1988-89, 1991-92, 1993-94, 1995-96) Conference Coach of the Year honoree. She led Southern Miss to 10 postseason appearances (1981 AIAW; 1982 WNIT; 1985, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996-NCAA) during her tenure. She coached 16-all conference performers at Southern Miss, including 11 first teamers, four Conference Player of the Year selections, and one Kodak All-American.
The Lady Eagles won four conference tournament titles and three regular-season titles during her tenure (1987, 1990, 1995-Metro Conference Tournament; 1989, 1993, 1994-Metro Conference). James guided her 1993-94 team to an impressive 26-5 record, a second conference title, and, for the second time in Lady Eagle history, earned a Top 20 ranking. Southern Miss ranked as high as 16th, the highest ranking ever.
James also coached with USA Basketball as an assistant with the U.S. Olympic Festival in 1989, and in 1992, as an assistant for the Women's Select Team that won the gold medal in the R. William Jones Cup in Taipei, Taiwan. She then teamed with North Carolina's Sylvia Hatchell in 1995, with the USA Basketball World University Games women's team that won a silver medal and, again in 1996, was an assistant coach to Rene Portland of Penn State and the USA Women's Junior World Championship silver medal team. She also spent one season as an assistant with the WNBA franchise team, Seattle Reign.
Prior to coming to Southern Miss, James was the head mentor at Berry College in Rome, Ga. In five seasons, her teams compiled an 85-30 record. She led Berry, which had never won a state title, to three- straight state and regional titles. Her most impressive squad at Berry was the 1975-76 team that claimed the AIAW Small College National Championship. Four players achieved All-American status, while playing for James.
In 1998, James received the WBCA Carol Eckman Award.
All former James players are being invited to join the ceremonies as the Kay James banner is raised to join Lady Eagle basketball legend Janice Felder. All former players are asked to call Associate AD and Senior Woman Administrator, Sonya Varnell, at 601-266-6142 to confirm attendance.