January 22, 1966 |
Jefferson City, Tennessee
|Alma mater||Vanderbilt University|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
Carolyn Arlene Peck (born January 22, 1966) is an American television sportscaster and former college basketball coach. She was the head coach for the women's basketball teams of Purdue University and the University of Florida, and also the first head coach-general manager in the history of the WNBA's Orlando Miracle. Currently, Peck is a basketball analyst for ESPN.
As a senior in high school, Peck, a 6-4 center, was named Tennessee’s Miss Basketball after averaging 35 points and 13.2 rebounds per game. She played college basketball at Vanderbilt University from 1985 to 1988, averaging 10.6 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. She also blocked 180 shots, to break a Vanderbilt women’s basketball career record.
Peck graduated from Vanderbilt with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications in 1988. She passed up on an opportunity to play professionally in Spain to work as a marketing consultant at a Nashville television station, as well as sell pharmaceutical products for a Fortune 500 company for two years.
Peck returned to basketball in 1991, quitting her job to play professionally in Italy for three weeks, then for Japan’s Nippondenso Corporation for two years. During her second year in Japan, her team won the league championship.
Peck’s coaching career began in 1993. She returned to her home state to serve as an assistant coach for the Tennessee Lady Vols under coach Pat Summitt for two seasons. The Lady Vols posted 30-win seasons and won the Southeastern Conference championship during both seasons: 31–2 in 1993–94, and 34–3 in 1994–95. The latter team lost to the undefeated, Rebecca Lobo-led Connecticut Huskies in the NCAA Championship game, the school's and head coach Geno Auriemma's first National Championship.
Peck went on to serve as an assistant coach at the University of Kentucky during the 1995–96 season. After this season, she received another assistant coaching job, this time at Purdue University under Nell Fortner, who had just replaced the fired Lin Dunn. The Boilermakers finished 17–11 during the 1996–97 season and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. At the end of this season, Fortner was offered the position of head coach of the USA Women's basketball team for the 2000 Summer Olympics and was leaving Purdue. She handed over the reins of head coach to Peck, who became Purdue’s third head coach in as many seasons.
During Peck’s first season as head coach (1997–98), Purdue went 23–10 with an Elite Eight appearance. Things appeared to be looking up for the following season; the bulk of the team was returning.
Meanwhile, in April 1998 the young WNBA announced that it was expanding from ten teams to twelve, with one of the new franchises to be based in Orlando, Florida. Pat Williams, senior executive vice president of the Orlando team-to-be, began his search to find a head coach–general manager. The original list of prospects had six candidates, including Summitt, Duke’s Gail Goestenkors and Florida’s Carol Ross— but not Peck. After all six candidates turned down the offer, Williams then called Peck upon the recommendation of both Ross and Goestenkors. In June 1998 Peck accepted the job with a four-year contract.
Despite accepting this new role, Peck was faced with a dilemma: having to return to Purdue to tell her team that they would once again have to play under a new coach. After she broke the news, some of her players felt betrayed and angry, some of them even telling her so personally. So after struggling with the idea of leaving Purdue after just one season as their coach, Peck again called Williams, asking him if she could remain at Purdue for the 1998–99 season and then go to Orlando for the start of the WNBA season. He granted her request.
In July it was announced that Peck would be the first head coach and general manager of the Orlando team (now named the Miracle), and coach at Purdue for one last season.
The friction between Peck and her players eased, after the team took a preseason trip to Switzerland and France for exhibition games. By the start of the season, the team was together, and Peck would neither discuss the fact that she was leaving nor answer any questions about Orlando.
Led by Katie Douglas, Stephanie White and Ukari Figgs, the Boilermakers posted a 28–1 record during the regular season, the lone loss coming by one point against Stanford. The team won the 1999 NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Tournament (the first national championship in Purdue women's basketball history; the Purdue men's only basketball title came in 1932), winning all six of its games by at least 10 points, including a 62–45 victory over Duke in the title game. Peck was named Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year by the Associated Press, as well as becoming the first woman and the first African American to win the Winged Foot Award (which honored the best coach in college basketball) from the New York Athletic Club. Two weeks after guiding Purdue to the title, Peck was in Orlando preparing the Miracle for their upcoming season.
To date, Peck is the only African-American to coach a women’s Division I basketball national championship team. The title is also the only one in women’s college basketball by a member of the Big Ten Conference.
During Peck’s three seasons as WNBA coach, the Miracle, which featured Shannon Johnson, Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Nykesha Sales and fellow Vanderbilt graduate Sheri Sam, posted a 44–52 record, narrowly missing out on the playoffs in 1999 and qualifying for them in 2000, where they lost to the Cleveland Rockers 2 games to 1.
University of Florida
During her five seasons at Florida (2002–03 through 2006-07), the Gators posted a 72–75 record with two NCAA tournament berths. The 2003–04 team, which posted a 19–11 record after going 9–19 the season before, was eliminated by Baylor in the second round of the 2004 NCAA Tournament, after defeating New Mexico in the first round before 16,029 fans at Albuquerque. The 2005–06 team posted a 21–7 record and received a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but this time New Mexico got revenge on Florida, defeating them by 24 points in the first round.
The 2006–07 season was a disaster—the Gators suffered through a 14-game losing streak and finished 9–22. Following the losing streak, the university fired Peck in February but allowed her to finish the season as coach. Former Florida Gators player Amanda Butler replaced Peck for the 2007–08 season. Peck was not out of basketball for long, however: ESPN hired her as a basketball analyst within months.
Peck's younger brother Michael served as one of her assistant coaches both with the Orlando Miracle and at the University of Florida. He is currently a coaching consultant.
Peck served as the assistant coach, under head coach Gail Goestenkors, for the USA representative to the 1997 William Jones Cup competition The event was held in Taipei, Taiwan during August 1997. The USA team won their first six games. Four of the six were decided by six points or fewer, including the semifinal game against Japan which went to overtime. In the gold medal game, the USA faced undefeated South Korea. The USA team played to a six point margin early in the second half, but could not extend the margin. South Korea came back, took the lead, and held on to win the championship and the gold medal 76-71.
- "USBWA WOMEN'S HONORS". USBWA. Retrieved 8 May 2010.
- "Naismith College Coach of the Year". Atlanta Tipoff Club. Retrieved 5 Jan 2013.
- "Past Russell Athletic/WBCA National Coaches of the Year". Women's Basketball Coaches Association. Retrieved 30 Jun 2014.
- "1997 WOMEN'S R. WILLIAM JONES CUP". USA Basketball. Retrieved 15 May 2013.