RICHMOND, Va. -- In just his fifth season as Alabama head coach, Rick Moody has taken the Crimson Tide women's basketball team to its first Final Four.
Yet Moody is working without a contract. That fact concerns but doesn't alarm him.
"When the season comes to a close, our administration will continue to support us in the manner that they have in the past," said Moody, who has taken Alabama to the NCAA tournament each of the past three seasons.
Moody's situation is hardly unique. Unlike the men's game, where nearly any coach who gets to the Final Four works under a contract usually worded loosely enough to allow him to move at a moment's notice, three of the four coaches -- Moody, Purdue's Lin Dunn and North Carolina's Sylvia Hatchell -- in the women's Final Four don't have formal agreements, which can leave them with little, if any, security. Only coaches at the schools with the most prestigious women's programs have contracts.
The matter of job security has become a prime topic as the Women's Basketball Coaches Association prepares to convene here this weekend in conjunction with the Final Four.
"As the pressures grow, we're going to have to take a stand and press for our security," said Moody.
"This is the top issue we're facing," said Hatchell.
Job security joins the issues of increased pay for women's coaches and equal pay for equal work as concerns to WBCA members, as all three matters have reared their heads in the last month.
Two weeks ago, Georgia women's coach Andy Landers received a pay raise of nearly $40,000 and a three-year rollover contract, as well as significant pay raises for his two assistant coaches, after he threatened a multimillion-dollar Title IX sex discrimination suit against the university.
Landers, who had won five more Southeastern Conference championships and made six more NCAA tournament appearances than men's coach Hugh Durham, had been making $58,160. Durham's salary is $99,080, which does not include shoe endorsement and television contract money that regularly flows to men's coaches, but not coaches of women's teams.
At Maryland, women's basketball coach Chris Weller makes $90,000 a year, compared with $132,879 for men's coach Gary Williams.
Gender equity has moved some athletic directors, including those at Florida and Georgia Southern, to bump their women's pTC coaches' pay closer in line with what they pay their men's coaches. But at other schools, women's coaches are considering legal action.
Baylor women's coach Pam Bowers, who coached this season under a one-year oral contract, was fired this week for the second time in as many years.
Bowers, who compiled a 168-257 record in 15 years at the school, contended her firings the past two seasons were in retaliation for exposing alleged irregularities in Baylor men's programs. She was rehired for this season after she filed Title IX complaints and has pledged to sue the university for her reinstatement.
"If that [threat of lawsuits] is what it's going to have to take, which is a very, very scary prospect, then that's what it will take," said Georgia Tech coach Agnus Berenato. "But, at the same time, does everybody just sit back or if you want to be heard do you have to say, 'I've got to get a lawyer.' Believe me, everybody's going to get a lawyer."
But going to court doesn't guarantee a victory. Now in the federal court system is the case of former Southern California coach Marianne Stanley, who was fired last summer when she rejected a one-year, $96,000 contract offer from the school. She was seeking a three-year pact for $297,000.
Stanley, who had won three national championships in 16 years and had recruited a Trojans team that reached this year's Mideast Regional finals, filed suit against USC. But her request for immediate reinstatement was turned down by a three-judge federal panel.
Judge Arthur Alarcon, writing for that panel, said that USC men's coach George Raveling was under "greater pressure" to promote his team and win than Stanley because Raveling's duties require him to "engage" in an "intense level of promotional and revenue-raising activities."
Women's coaches scoff at that argument, citing that most men's coaches don't have to do their own fund raising or marketing because athletic departments routinely hire employees to handle those tasks. Women's coaches, meanwhile, often must perform those duties themselves.
"I go out and speak," Berenato said. "I started a booster club. I felt it was my responsibility to bring in money, and this year alone, we brought in close to $40,000 with corporate sponsors and with individual boosters."
"This thing really disturbs me," said Penn State coach Rene Portland. "We have not done a good job of finding out the issues. We should have made a stand and said, 'Hey, this is what we want.' Unfortunately, we have some coaches who sat back. I'm disappointed."