News & Events


Mar 19, 2020

Four Coaches Competing for their First Naismith Coaching Win


ATLANTA (March 19, 2020) - The 2020 Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year Award finalists were announced today by the Atlanta Tipoff Club and include Adia Barnes (Arizona), Kelly Graves (Oregon), Joe McKeown (Northwestern) and Dawn Staley (South Carolina).

Each of these four coaches would become the first men’s or women’s Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year winner for their school. While this would be the first win of the Coach of the Year honor for each of these coaches, Staley won the Citizen Naismith Trophy for Women’s Player of the Year twice (1991, 1992), during her playing days at the University of Virginia.

“We enjoyed watching each of these coaches demonstrate their leadership and talent on the court by guiding their players to a great regular season,” said Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club. “Each of the coaches has shown the dedication and determination worthy of winning the 2020 Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year and it’s important we honor them.”

Beginning March 20, 2020, fans will be able to support their favorite finalist by visiting until April 1, to cast their ballot. The fan vote will account for five percent of the overall final vote. The 2020 Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year is scheduled to be announced on April 3, and the winner will be honored at a later date.

“Despite these trying times, we want to make sure we still honor a winner as the Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year for their hard work and success this basketball season. Each of the four finalists are deserving of the Coach of the Year title,” said Stacy Gardella, vice president of brand marketing at WernerCo. “We look forward to awarding one of these coaches their first Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year Award.”


About the finalists:

Adia Barnes, Arizona

  • Barnes coached her team to an overall record of 24-7, one win away from tying the Arizona record for season wins.
  • In her fourth season coaching the Wildcats, she led them to their first Associated Press (AP) Top 25 ranking in the past 15 years.
  • The Arizona alum also led her players to the first ever road win over an AP Top 10 team in the program’s history when they beat Oregon State, which ranked No. 9 at the time.


Kelly Graves, Oregon

  • For the second time in the past three years, Graves was named the Pac-12 Coach of the Year.
  • He coached his team to a 17-1 conference record, 31-2 overall and a Pac-12 tournament championship title.
  • His Ducks also broke a program record by going undefeated at home and ended the season with a No. 2 ranking in the AP Top 25.


Joe McKeown, Northwestern

  • McKeown was named Big Ten Coach of the Year, becoming the first Northwestern coach to earn the honor since 1990.
  • He led his team to a program-record 26 overall and 16 conference wins, going 26-4 and 16-2.
  • With a win over East Carolina, McKeown became one of 13 active coaches to surpass the 700-win mark.


Dawn Staley, South Carolina

  • Leading her team to an SEC regular-season championship for a fifth time, Staley also led her team to victory in the SEC Tournament.
  • She coached her team to a perfect 16-0 conference record and the Gamecocks went 32-1 overall, ending the season on a 26-game winning streak.
  • Staley was named SEC Coach of the Year.


The four finalists were chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s national voting academy, comprised of leading journalists from around the country, current and former head coaches, former award winners and conference commissioners, all of whom base their selections on outstanding coaching performances during the 2019-20 regular college basketball season. The vote was tabulated and certified by Aprio, a premier CPA-led business advisory firm, headquartered in Atlanta.

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About The Atlanta Tipoff Club
Founded during the 1956-57 season, the Atlanta Tipoff Club is committed to promoting the game of basketballand recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of those who make the game so exciting. The Atlanta Tipoff Club administers the Naismith Awards, the most prestigious national honors in all of college and high school basketball. Named in honor of Dr. James Naismith, inventor of the game of basketball, the family of Naismith Awards annually recognizes the most outstanding men’s and women’s college and high school basketball players and coaches. Other Naismith Awards are presented to the men’s and women’s college basketball defensive players of the year, as well as lifetime achievement awards to basketball officials and outstanding contributors to
the game. UCLA’s Lew Alcindor received the first Citizen Naismith Trophy in 1969, while the late Anne Donovan (Old Dominion) was the inaugural women’s recipient in 1983. Corporate partners of the Naismith Awards include Citizen Watch Company, Jersey Mike’s and Werner Ladder.


About Werner Ladder Company

Werner, the official ladder of NCAA® March Madness® and the world leader in ladders offers a complete line of climbing products designed for working at heights. The portfolio includes ladders, attic ladders, scaffolding, pump jacks, stages, planks, step stools, accessories and fall protection equipment including harnesses, lanyards, anchors
and compliance kits. From ladders to fall protection, WERNER provides a full line of climbing equipment that’s engineered to give you maximum safety, durability and productivity at every height. All Werner products meet or exceed applicable international safety standards. For more information, visit



Traci Messier
Jackson Spalding for the Atlanta Tipoff Club
[email protected]