Loyalty sometimes sacrifices career progress. Conversely, there's no career progress without sacrifice. In the case of Jackson State University's women's head basketball coach Tomekia Reed, will her loyalty be rewarded? Better yet, and when?
Reed is a compelling figure and rising star within the women's basketball coaching ranks — and still hasn't reached her zenith.
The dynamic Jackson State head coach spoke to Houston broadcasting legend Ralph Cooper on his KCOH radio program on Thursday. Reed confirmed that she had several interviews this offseason; however, she decided to remain loyal and return to Jackson State.
INTERVIEWS AND OFFER
"I had several interviews with some Power 5 institutions," Reed said. "I mean, it was amazing. It came down the stretch, and I was one of the finalists for a particular position, but I was I was not afforded that opportunity. I had another opportunity that was offered to me, and I almost accepted that opportunity. But, I felt like it was more work to be done [at Jackson State]."
It's not a surprise that Reed garnered praise from Kim Mulkey and interest from Power 5 programs. She and the No. 14-ranked Lady Tigers were minutes away from a historic first-round upset over No. 3 LSU in the 2022 Women's NCAA Tournament, but fell 83-77.
REED'S OUTSTANDING CAREER AT JACKSON STATE
Reed has posted a stellar 78-37 (67.8%) winning record in her four seasons at Jackson State. Since her arrival, the Lady Tigers have overpowered their SWAC rivals by registering a phenomenal 60-9 (86.9%) record and three-consecutive SWAC regular-season titles, two-straight SWAC Tournament Championships, and two NCAA Tournament appearances in 2021 and 2022.
Also, Reed was voted twice as the SWAC's Women's Basketball Coach of the Year.
Jackson State's star forward Ameshya Williams-Holliday became the first Jackson State player to be selected in the WNBA Draft by the Indiana Fever. She was the first HBCU player drafted by a WNBA team in 20 years.
The accolades, awards, and stardom are pouring in for Tomekia Reed, but where are the dollars? "I chose to come back under the impression that what I was asking for in my contract was going to be given at the time. Since then, it hasn't changed," Reed lamented. "That was a job that I turned down. I had opportunities. But, sometimes, I just felt like it was more work to do."
CONTRACT TALKS WITH JACKSON STATE
Hence, the current stalemate between Reed, athletic director Ashley Robinson, and the institution is evident. It begs the question, what more should Reed accomplish since her 2020 contract extension to pay her among the other women's coaching elite?
Cooper asked the magnetic coach if she "expects to be bumped up or bonused regarding salary?" "Absolutely," Reed responded. She continued, "We are in negotiations right now."
Reed made clear her gratitude for working with Robinson. "I'm just so thankful for our athletic director, Ashley. We've got an athletic director who can make things happen for you and your program...that's a tremendous help in terms of reaching success in a short amount of time that we were able to do so," Reed noted.
It's a positive sign that Reed and Jackson State are still communicating about a new contract. Cooper perhaps made the best closing arguments for Coach Reed.
In your case, you went 16 and 0 in the conference. The attention you and your team gave the university in regards to what you did in the NCAA tournament against LSU. You can't put a price tag on that, in my opinion." Coop went on to say, "I regret the people from Texas Southern didn't pursue you more. You would have been an ideal fit here. We have everything you need...I want the people to know in Jackson that they better try to keep you, okay. They need to make a better effort to keep you, is what I'm saying."
She respects two-time national championship head coach Dawn Staley for "the work she does and what she stands for, and how she's certainly for our culture."
The JSU head coach appreciated Kim Mulkey's post-game exchange and press conference comments. Reed remarked, "She told me I'm one of the top coaches in America. She said, the sky's the limit for you, and I'm so proud of you. I don't think you'll be at Jackson State for long. And, if you do, they need to pay you. It was something that she shared with me, and a lot of people felt a certain type of way. I didn't feel that was a negative comment. I felt it was someone who recognized talent and stamped it."
Should Reed and Jackson State come to a stalemate, she may not sit, wait, and let loyalty from preventing her advancement in the NCAA coaching ranks.
Her faith and tenacious spirit kept her focused through the trials and tribulations since arriving at Jackson State. "Losing my father and taking this job with Jackson State, it's been hard. I knew I had to get up and create a better day, not for myself, but for my players and for my coaching staff," she commented.
Let's face the facts. As a coach, she has won at every level and knows how to recruit top-level talent from across the country. Tomekia Reed is a hot commodity as a speaker, leader, and head coach. Will she remain at Jackson State after the 2022 season or venture into a new and more challenging role elsewhere?
We shall see.
About Ralph Cooper
- Cooper began his journalism career at the Forward Times newspaper, covering courts and junior high sports.
- In 1973, the Houston native took a job at KYOK Radio. Eleven years later, he moved to KCOH (1430 AM), where he still works.
- Over the years, Cooper has interviewed dozens of sports legends, including Willie Mays; Satchel Paige; Hank Aaron; Roberto Clemente; Kenny Houston; Kenny Burrough; Jesse Owens; Muhammad Ali; George Foreman; Joe Louis; Wilma Rudolph; Sugar Ray Robinson; Evander Holyfield, Eric Dickerson; Earl Campbell; Clyde Drexler; Zina Garrison; Mike Singletary; and George Floyd,
- Texas Radio Hall of Fame Class of 2020
- Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2022
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