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Women’s Basketball Hosts 'Raising the B.A.R. Invitational powered by Cal'

Nov 2, 2021
The Cal women's basketball team is pleased to announce the Raising the B.A.R. Invitational powered by Cal.

BERKELEY – Cal Women's Basketball will host its legendary tournament for the 41st season this month under an official rebrand and mission, "Raising the B.A.R. Invitational powered by Cal." B.A.R. stands for Basketball, Activism and Representation. The Raising the B.A.R Invitational will be used to elevate the voices, stories and people in the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging space.

"The rebranding of the Raising the B.A.R. Invitational provides a platform for us to continue the conversations surrounding social and racial justice, to advocate for representation in our game while also highlighting the growth and development of women's basketball which has been captivating more and more fans across the nation each year," said head coach Charmin Smith.

Each participating team – Cal, Furman, San Diego State and Ole Miss – is led by a Black female head coach. Charmin Smith is in her third year at Cal, while the Paladins are led by 11th-year head coach Jackie Carson, the Aztecs are led by ninth-year head coach Stacie Terry-Hutson, and Ole Miss is led by fourth-year head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin.

"Representation matters, and in a sport of which 46 percent of student-athletes are Black, it's telling that only 17 percent of head coaches are Black women," said Smith. "This is an area in which athletics departments need to be more intentional across the board."

According to a 2020 survey by the NCAA, only 228 Black female head coaches were among the 6,754 head coaches across all NCAA Division I sports. In women's basketball specifically, there were 13 Black female head coaches.

"I'm super excited about the renaming – names matter. Cal women's basketball has been a leader in our department in helping us to remain attentive to our social justice commitment," said Dr. Ty-Ron Douglas, Associate Athletics Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging. "A lot of people were thinking about social justice in 2020 – to continue to think about it in 2021 and beyond is going to require intentionality. To intentionally change the name of a tournament to something that always reminds us about basketball, its capacity to be used for activism, and the importance of representation is not just timely but it's vital now."

All three of Cal's opponents – Furman, Ole Miss and San Diego State – are expecting successful seasons. Furman was picked to finish fourth in the SoCon Preseason Coaches Poll. After finishing 11-14 last season, the Paladins return three starters from last year's team including two-time All-SoCon honoree Tierra Hodges. Ole Miss, the 2021 WNIT Runner Up, went 15-12 last season and was picked to finish sixth in the Preseason SEC Coaches Poll. San Diego State went 7-17 in 2020-21 with a 5-12 mark in Mountain West play; however, this season they were picked to finish eighth in the conference and return nine letter winners from last year's team, including guard Asia Avinger who was named the Mountain West Preseason Freshman of the Year.

Earlier this month, the Cal women's basketball team participated in its second annual Race for Change. In two years, the Bears have raised over $14,000 for the DEIB office. Last November, guards Cailyn Crocker and Sierra Richey formed the Racial Justice Council that would "serve the purpose of protecting, educating and advocating in the name of racial and social justice, reform and equality." For their efforts, the duo received the Walter A. Haas Jr. Community Service Award, which is awarded annually to student-athlete(s) for his or her outstanding contribution to community service.

"We have a lot of work to do in college athletics and our nation. The gender equity issue is one example of many in college athletics. The Raising the B.A.R. Invitational will continue to spotlight on these issues and push for change," said Smith.

The two-day tournament begins on Friday, Nov. 26 with the Bears hosting Furman at 1:00 p.m. PT, followed by San Diego State taking on Ole Miss at 3:00 p.m. PT. The tournament will conclude on Saturday, Nov. 27, beginning with the consolation game at 1:00 p.m. PT. The Championship game will take place after the consolation game, with Friday's winners squaring off.

The Raising the B.A.R. Invitational, originally named the Cal Classic, goes back to the 1977-78 season and has featured 91 teams from across the country. Cal has won the event 22 times in the tournament's 41-year history. Due to COVID-19, 2019 was the last time this tournament took place, with the Bears defeating Long Beach State 68-45.
 
Tickets are on sale now. Fans can purchase individual day passes that are good for both contests. To purchase your tickets, click here.