LSU basketball court name change sparks debate over gender equality

LSU board names court after men’s basketball coach Dale Brown, over women’s objections

By: - September 10, 2021 7:10 pm

The LSU Board of Supervisors voted to name the basketball court in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center after former LSU men’s basketball coach Dale Brown, but only after an extended and heated debate over whether a woman coach should be given the honor instead.

Mary Werner, a LSU Board member, pushed back on naming the court for Brown and advocated for former LSU women’s basketball coach Sue Gunter, for whom she said “the accolades and honors can be compared (to Brown).”

“It truly disturbs me that through all the conversations we’ve had… we still can’t raise a woman to the equal level of a man in this community,” Werner said. 

Werner said the majority of LSU is made up of women, and asked the board to “think about those that we represent. It’s the university. It’s the students. It’s the faculty. It’s the employees.”

“It is not only the men’s basketball program,” she said.

After two hours of debate, the board voted 12-3 to name the court after Brown. Werner, student member Monica Aguilera and board member Jack Blossman were the only members to vote against the resolution.

Brown coached LSU basketball from 1972-1997 and won SEC Coach of the Year four times in that span. LSU made it to the Final Four twice and won four SEC regular seasons during his tenure.

Before the vote, Aguilera suggested the court be named after both Brown and Gunter — an idea rejected by most of the board.

In addition to advocating for Gunter, Werner complained the Brown name change for the court hadn’t gone through the proper vetting process set up by the board.

Naming the court after Brown is not a new idea. The proposal has languished in a name-changing committee set up by the board. The process was stalled, in part because that committee never put forward a formal recommendation that the court be named after Brown, according to board members speaking during the meeting. 

Yet many former players and colleagues spoke on behalf of Brown’s character. Former players said they still get calls on their birthday from their old coach.

“Almost everybody who played for Coach Brown gets that birthday phone call,” Ricky Blanton, a former NBA player and LSU Tiger, said.

“It has often been said of Dale that no one has done more for race relations in Louisiana than Dale Brown,” a former colleague said.

“That’s true,” said Collis Temple, the first Black person on LSU’s varsity basketball team and an LSU Board of Supervisors member, interjected.

Temple was one of the primary advocates on the LSU board for naming the court after Brown. He and others said Brown had advocated for Black players, and Brown’s support of Black athletes was one of the reasons some people in the LSU community resisted honoring the former coach.

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JC Canicosa
JC Canicosa

JC Canicosa is an award-winning journalist at The Louisiana Illuminator. Canicosa has previous experience at Investigate-TV and The Loyola Maroon and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Loyola University New Orleans. At Loyola, he was the senior staff writer at The Maroon and the president of the school's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Off the clock, Canicosa enjoys playing basketball, watching movies and dabbling in comedy writing.