DSU President Harry L. Williams and Interim Athletics Director Louis “Skip” Perkins announced the appointment of Barbara Burgess, one of the greatest players in Delaware State University women’s basketball history, as the school’s ninth head coach on May 5, 2015.
Her appointment marks the second time that a former Lady Hornet player has headed the DSU women’s basketball program. Jackie Devane was head coach from 1995-00 after competing for the team from 1979-83.
“Barbara stood out among some outstanding candidates for the position, not just because she’s a Lady Hornet alum, but because of her highly successful experience as a teacher of the game and recruiter, as well as her commitment to academics and community service,” AD Perkins said. “We believe Barbara will bring a high level of excellence back to the Lady Hornet program she helped to make so successful as a student-athlete.”
The first season under Burgess featured the Lady Hornets posting their highest overall (9) and conference (6) win totals since 2012-13. Her first victory resulted in a 76-69 win over the Sun Belt Conference's Appalachian State in the final game of the Florida Atlantic Thanksgiving Tournament on Nov. 28. However, Burgess' most impressive victory featured DSU knocking off Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) powerhouse Hampton on the road on Feb. 29, 89-81. This win not only snapped a 15-game slide to the Pirates, but it was Delaware State’s first win at HU since a 53-51 triumph on Feb. 28, 2005.
Despite 2015-16 coming to a close with a 79-74 loss to Florida A&M in the MEAC Tournament, freshman sensation NaJai Pollard garnered MEAC Rookie of the Year honors, leading the Lady Hornets in rebounding (8.3 rpg), blocks (51), double-doubles (8) and finishing second in scoring (11.6 ppg). As a team, DSU led the conference in free throw percentage (.726), along with finishing fifth in field goal percentage (.372), fourth in blocked shots per game (4.2) and seventh in steals per game (8.2).
Burgess, who starred for the Lady Hornets from 1985-89, most recently served as an assistant coach at Delaware State’s highly successful MEAC rival Hampton University the past six seasons. While at Hampton, Burgess helped lead the Lady Pirates to five MEAC Tournament titles, five regular season crowns and six national championship tournament appearances.
During Burgess’ tenure as an assistant coach, the Lady Pirates won a MEAC-record five consecutive tournament championships (2009-14). Hampton posted an overall record of 146-48 (.753), including an 88-8 mark (.917) in MEAC regular season play, in addition to winning 54 consecutive games against league opponents (including tournament games).
“We believe that Barbara’s championship experience at Hampton, along with the intensity and passion she developed in her playing days with the Lady Hornets will greatly benefit our women’s basketball program,” Dr. Williams said.
Prior to her time at Hampton, Burgess served one season as an assistant coach at Norfolk State University (2008-09). She was also the head women’s coach at Virginia Union University from 1999-2001, posting a 13-39 overall record.
As a high school coach, she manned the sidelines for six years (2002-08) as the head women's basketball coach at Phoebus High School (VA). The Phantoms were 73-67 in her tenure, making three trips to the Eastern Region tournament. From 1992-99, Burgess was the head women's basketball coach at Huguenot High School (VA). She was named Dominion District Coach of the Year in 1997 after leading Huguenot to a 14-9 record. The following year, the Lady Falcons were runners-up in the Dominion District Tournament. Throughout her 14 years at the helm in the high school ranks, Burgess mentored several players who have gone on to play at the collegiate level, including former Howard University standout Essence Coggins (Huguenot).
Burgess was a four-year Black College All-American for DSU (1985-89) on the court. She was named to the MEAC All-Rookie Team and ended her career with the Lady Hornets as the school’s second all-time leading scorer with 1,807 points, a spot she currently still holds. During her sophomore season, she led the team in scoring (17.9 ppg) and rebounding (7.3 rpg) and was named to the All-MEAC First Team. Her junior campaign featured leading Delaware State in scoring (17.1 ppg) on her way to another All-MEAC First Team selection. Burgess wrapped up career garnering DSU Female Athlete of the Year in 1988-89, in addition to leading the Lady Hornets to the 1989 MEAC Tournament Championship game.
Burgess graduated from Delaware State in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in Health and Physical Education and was inducted to the DSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 2000. She also received her master’s degree in sports management from California (Pa.) University.
Burgess is a native of Richmond, Va. and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.