UA Little Rock to name Jack Stephens Center Court in honor of former coach Joe Foley
August 8-14, 2022
By Angelita Faller
Little Rock Athletics will name the court at the Jack Stephens Center, home to the Trojans women’s basketball program that has been to six NCAA Tournaments with two NCAA Tournament wins, in honor of current Little Rock women’s basketball coach Joe Foley.
The court dedication in honor of one of the most successful coaches in the history of the game will take place in a pregame ceremony on Sunday, Nov. 13, when Little Rock hosts Ole Miss, one of three Southeastern Conference teams to visit the Jack Stephens Center and soon-to-be named Joe Foley Court this season. Little Rock will be inviting all former letterwinners back that weekend; more information will be forthcoming on those events. Fans can ensure tickets for the game and pregame ceremony by purchasing their season tickets today.
Now entering his 20th season as head coach at Little Rock and 36th season as a head coach overall, Foley currently ranks third among active women’s basketball coaches with 833 career wins, behind only Stanford’s Tara Vanderveer and UConn’s Geno Auriemma.
“This is a tremendous honor and I’m incredibly touched by this gesture,” Foley said. “It is truly special. Really most of the credit goes to the players, assistant coaches and staff members that have made this program the success it is. What really means the most is that this came about from my former players. As a coach, you want to know you had an impact on the lives of your student-athletes and for them to push for this, it is unbelievable.”
Foley will become just the fourth women’s basketball coach to currently have a court named after them with Tennessee’s Pat Summitt, NC State’s Kay Yow, and former Arkansas/Texas A&M coach Gary Blair also sharing the honor.
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 Dr. 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 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’s 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.
UA Little Rock will name the basketball court at the Jack Stephens Center in honor of head women's basketball coach Joe Foley (right) during a pregame ceremony on Nov. 13 when UA Little Rock faces off against Ole Miss. Foley will become just the fourth women's basketball coach to have a court named after them.