By J. Coyden Palmer, Chicago Crusader
Late last week the Board of Trustees at Chicago State University quietly fired the head coaches of both the mens’ and women’s basketball teams. Tracy Dildy, in his eighth season, who also served as the Athletic Director (AD), was fired after a 3-29 season as the mens’ coach. Angela Jackson, in her 15th season as women’s coach, was fired after a season in which her team only won one game and during that time set the Division I women’s record with 59 consecutive losses over a two-year period when they fell to Grand Canyon 59-43 on February 3.
Additionally, the Crusader has learned through sources close to the situation that CSU is seeking to hire Chicago basketball icons Mark Aguirre and Tamika Catchings to fill the respective positions.
CSU officials never announced the firings. Several Crusader sources confirmed the details on March 12. The Crusader spoke briefly with CSU Sports Information Director Corey Miggins who would neither confirm nor deny if changes were being made.
Dildy built a reputation as an accomplished assistant and a respected recruiter before arriving at Chicago State in 2010. He spent three years as the associate head coach and recruiting coordinator at UIC, from 2007-10, before taking the job at CSU. Dildy made history at Chicago State during the 2012-13 season, guiding the Cou- gars to the program’s first ever NCAA Division I postseason berth. The Cougars defeated Houston Baptist in the 2013 Great West Conference Tournament Championship and earned a berth in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
But the past few seasons have been rough for Dildy. Much of that can be blamed on the school’s financial situation that historically has not been supportive of its athletic programs. There has also been chaos within the leadership of the athletic department, as CSU has had several directors in the past 15 years. One former CSU AD the Crusader spoke with on March 14 said CSU’s pro- blems are systemic.
“I think the sad part is that the place could be a gold mine for attracting athletic talent,” the former AD said. “They are right in the hotbed of prep basketball on the South Side of Chicago. But they do not do enough things to try and get the talent out of that area. It needs to start when they are six years old. South Side ballplayers should know about CSU as kids and grow up with the brand. That doesn’t happen so they end up scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to talent.”
Jackson had very little success at CSU in the past seven years. Last spring, the Crusader published a scathing commentary regarding Jackson, who made nearly $100,000 a year and had little to show for it, while other CSU employees, including professors, were being laid off. The commentary had over 15,000 views online and was talked about in the national basketball community for weeks. But still CSU officials failed to act on what became a growing cry to fire Jackson.
Mark Aguirre, who played prep ball at Westinghouse and was responsible for putting DePaul on the map in the early 80s, is a name that keeps popping up as a possible replacement for Dildy. Aguirre two weeks ago gave an interview with a Chicago newspaper, lam- enting how bad things have gotten at DePaul. Sources say his ultimate goal could be the head coach job at DePaul, and perhaps use CSU as a stepping-stone.
Aguirre is frequently seen at Morgan Park High School basketball games and is often a guest at the team’s practices. In 1981, he was the NBA’s #1 overall draft pick by the Dallas Mavericks. He later played for the Detroit Pistons and was a part of the “Bad Boys” teams that won two championships.
Catchings is one of the best women’s basketball players of all time. A WNBA Finals Champion and MVP in 2012, she was a collegiate star at the University of Tennessee before having a successful pro career. She was a member of four USA Olympic Gold Medal winning teams, the last in 2016. Catchings does have some Chicago area ties as she played at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire for part of her prep career.
Other names being mentioned for the women’s vacancy is current Whitney Young High School head coach Corry Irvin, who has won over 400 games and has three state titles at the Near West Side school. Irvin has also sent dozens of players to college on basketball scholarships. Like Aguirre, she played her college ball at DePaul and has been viewed as a possible replacement for Doug Bruno if he retires from DePaul.