Little Rock dedicates “Joe Foley Court” at the Jack Stephens Center in program ceremony
November 28 - December 4, 2022
By Angelita Faller
In a pregame ceremony surrounded by nearly four decades’ worth of former players, Little Rock Head Women’s Basketball Coach Joe Foley, alongside his wife and children, pulled a drape off the floor to find his signature adorned on the court of the Jack Stephens Center, home to the Trojans since 2005.
With the reveal, Foley becomes just the sixth women’s basketball coach in the country to currently have a court named after them.
The honor comes after a group of nine former Little Rock players petitioned the Athletic Department for the honor to be bestowed on Foley, whose 834 wins ranks third among active Division I head women’s coaches.
Now in his 20th season at the helm of the Trojans program and 36th season as a collegiate head coach, Foley has won more games guiding an Arkansas-based collegiate team than any other coach in the history of the state, men’s or women’s.
The ceremony came prior to the Trojans’ game against Ole Miss, the first of five Southeastern Conference opponents Foley’s team will face this season. Throughout the game, video messages from Chris Beard (Texas), Gary Blair (Texas A&M), Vic Schaeffer (Texas), Brooke Stoehr (Louisiana Tech), Gerry Broadhead (Louisiana), Angel Elderkin (App State), Karen Aston (UTSA) and others appeared on the videoboard congratulating Foley on the honor.
“I think programs like Little Rock and Coach Foley are truly underestimated in how hard they are to play against, and how competitive they are and how well coached they are,” said UConn Head Coach Geno Auriemma, one of only two active women’s coaches with more wins than Foley. “I think naming the court in his honor is a fitting tribute because everyone in women’s basketball knows Little Rock because of what Coach Foley has built there. Congratulations to Joe on this great honor.”
Foley joins the ranks of illustrious women’s head coaches such as Pat Summitt (Tennessee), Kay Yow (NC State), Gary Blair (Texas A&M), Doug Bruno (DePaul) and C. Vivian Stringer (Rutgers) to have his name bestowed upon the hardwood. From that list only Foley and Bruno are still coaching.
He has accumulated more wins than anyone as a collegiate basketball coach in the state of Arkansas — men’s or women’s — and has led the Trojans to at least the semifinals of their conference tournament in 15 of the past 16 years, but his most significant and impressive stat is the fact that he has achieved a 100% graduation rate of any student-athlete that played four years in his program.
Little Rock’s decision to name the court after Coach Foley comes after a group of his former student-athletes reached out to Trojans Athletics Director George Lee requesting the school recognize Foley in this manner. After ensuring that university and system policies did not prohibit such a recognition, Lee moved forward and gained approval from both the UA System and UA Little Rock Chancellor Christina Drale.
“This is an honor of which Coach Foley is truly deserving,” Lee said. “The success his teams have achieved both on the court and in the classroom are among the best in the history of the game. For a group of his former players to lead the charge on this honor shows how much respect he has earned across the various decades he has coached here. It is truly remarkable. I am so pleased that we can recognize him in this way.”
With this recognition, Foley will be the only active women’s basketball coach with a court named after him and just one of two active men’s or women’s coaches in the country with such a distinction, along with Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim.
Foley’s longevity at Little Rock is one that is nearly unmatched at any school in the Ohio Valley or Sun Belt Conferences and is also nearly unmatched around the country.
“Coach Foley is, and will always be, a legend at UA Little Rock,” said Dr. Drale. “His record speaks for itself, but this honor is a reflection of his inspiring leadership and consistent dedication to the success and wellbeing of his players.”
Little Rock becomes the 27th school in the country to name their court after a head coach and Foley’s name fits right in with that list of “Who’s Who in College Basketball.” The five-time Sun Belt Coach of the Year and 2010 WBCA Regional Coach of the Year has led the Little Rock Women’s Basketball program to 20-win seasons in 11 of the last 14 years and national postseason appearances in 10 of the last 13 years.
A member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, Foley reached a remarkable milestone during the 2019-20 season when he recorded his 800th career victory, something only 18 coaches in the history of NCAA Women’s Basketball have achieved. His 700th career win may have been more memorable as it came in a 69-60 win over Texas A&M and Gary Blair in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
In his 19 years at Little Rock, Foley has compiled the most overall wins (29) and conference victories (18) in a season while producing the school’s first All-Sun Belt Conference selection in Alicia Cash in 2004. He also recruited back-to-back Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year winners in Renee Renz (2006) and Kim Sitzmann (2007). No other Sun Belt Conference school has achieved this feat. Foley also coached the school’s first-ever Honorable Mention All-America honoree in Chastity Reed in 2010. Ronjanae DeGray was named the Sun Belt’s Female Student-Athlete of the Year in 2019. His Trojan student-athletes have earned 37 All-Conference selections.
Foley has earned many personal accolades during his career. He has been named national coach of the year twice, region or district coach of the year seven times, chosen to be on the 1994 United States Olympic Festival coaching staff and was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2002.
Little Rock moved from the Sun Belt Conference to the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC)on July 1, 2022, and the Trojans are preparing for their first season of OVC play. Foley left the Sun Belt as that league’s all-time leader in wins.
Before he joined Little Rock’s Team, Foley was at Arkansas Tech as an assistant for the men’s basketball program from 1984-87. He was elevated to the women’s head coaching position before the 1987-88 season. The Golden Suns had six 30-win seasons under Foley and posted 16 consecutive 20-win seasons. Foley guided Arkansas Tech to back-to-back NAIA national championships in 1992 and 1993 and was the NCAA Division II national runner-up in 1999.
Under Foley, Arkansas Tech also won 14 conference championships, made six appearances in the NCAA Division II tournament and advanced to the Division II Elite Eight twice.
Foley began his coaching career at the high school level as both the boys’ and girls’ basketball coach at Oxford (Ark.) High School from 1979-81, and then at Morrilton High School as an assistant for the boys’ team until 1984.
The 2022-23 season not only marks Foley’s 20th at Little Rock and 36th as a head coach, it also marks the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the civil rights law that has profoundly transformed opportunities within intercollegiate athletics.
Little Rock has become known as the “Coaching Factory” with renowned coaches such as Chris Beard (currently at Texas), Porter Moser (Oklahoma) and Mark Adams (Texas Tech) all building their resumes in Arkansas’ Capital City. There are currently seven head coaches in Division I men’s basketball that once patrolled the sidelines in Little Rock, along with Foley and legendary Little Rock Volleyball Coach Van Compton.
This season’s home schedule includes three SEC opponents (Arkansas, Ole Miss, Texas A&M), three of the four other Division I programs from Arkansas visiting the Jack Stephens Center and a slate of 15 home games for Trojan fans to watch.
1. In a pregame ceremony surrounded by nearly four decades’ worth of former players, Little Rock Head Women’s Basketball Coach Joe Foley, alongside his wife and children, pulled a drape off the floor to find his signature adorned on the court of the Jack Stephens Center, home to the Trojans since 2005.
2. Trojans’ Women’s Basketball Coach Joe Foley gets court named for him.