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Central State's Theresa Check wins 400th game

January 29, 2001

With an 80-54 victory over Kentucky State University in the friendly confines of Beacom/Lewis Gym on the Central State campus Sunday, Theresa Check has reached the 400-win mark. After starting the season at 5-5, the Lady Marauders have gone 13-1 to put Coach Check into a special group of collegiate coaches.

Theresa Check
Theresa Check
Check's accomplishment is a plateau that is just a dream for many. Currently, there are less than 50 active coaches in all thee divisions of the NCAA that have won 400 games as a women's basketball coach. In the NAIA, there are only three. Among HBCUs there are only two active coaches (Nelson Brownlee-Claflin and James Sweat-Norfolk State) that have won 400 games and three overall (Tiny Laster Tuskegee/Hampton). What makes this accomplishment even more impressive is that during here three-year tenure at Western Illinois University, from 1982-85, she only won 20 games.

Check graduated from Central State in 1974 after playing her senior year for the Lady Marauders basketball team. After graduation, she was named the head women's basketball coach and posted a 7-4 record. Her team qualified for the state AIAW tournament.

The following year, she moved to Alter High School in Kettering, OH where she won 122 games before taking the position at Western Illinois in 1982.

Check returned to CSU in the summer of 1985 and took over a women's program that had been struggling. In her first season back, the 1985-86 Lady Marauders posted a record of 13-14 while competing as an NCAA Division II program. This was the only losing season that the Lady Marauders would have under her leadership.

The following year, while still competing in the NCAA, CSU posted a 17-7 record. The school changed to NAIA affiliation in 1987 and the Lady Marauders went 23-4 and won the NAIA District 22 championship. For the next five years, CSU won the NAIA District 22 championship.

Check's two winningest squads were her 1995-96 team (30-4) and her 1996-97 squad (29-3). The 1996-97 team, which was ranked as high as fifth in the NAIA national poll had to overcome some bizarre events at the end of the season.

Just days before the Great Lakes regional playoffs, the school was notified by the NAIA that the entire athletics program has been placed on suspension because of eligibility questions concerning the football team. This meant that the women's basketball team was not eligible to participate in the playoffs. With one regular season game remaining and with no apparent change of going to the playoffs, the Lady Marauders finished their regular season with a 102-60 victory over Spalding University.

Ten days later, the team was informed that the NAIA had changed its sanctions and that only the football team would be p laced on suspension. Since the regional playoffs had already begun, CSU had to wait for a possible at-large bid to the National Tournament. The bid came and the Lady Marauders were seeded number five. They won two games before bowing out in the quarterfinals to eventual champion Southern Nazarene.

Since returning the CSU, Coach Check has posted a 355-100 record for a .780 winning percentage. She has a streak of 13 straight seasons with 20 or more victories and one season (1995-96) with 30 wins. She is the winningest coach in Central State history surpassing Coach William Lucas, whose record was 239-119 at CSU.

Check was named Director of Athletics in March 1998 during a time when Central State's program was fighting to survive. The athletic program had dwindled to only men's and women's basketball but is now flourishing with eleven sports. She had added a full-time academic advisor/compliance coordinator to ensure that some of the problems of the past do not reoccur.

Check has been honored as the NAIA District Coach of the Year three times, Great Lakes Region Coach or Co-coach of the year four times and the Mid-South Coach of the Year once. In 1993 she was named WBCA/Converse NAIA Division I Coach of the Year.

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