Competition pursues former coach even in administration

Krista Tschetter

Krista Tschetter

Nancy Neiber knows a thing or two about competition. As head women’s basketball coach at South Dakota State University for 16 years, Neiber had a winning tally of 301-140. She had 14 consecutive winning seasons, six NCAA post-season appearances and two second place finishes in the North Central Conference.

She was named NCC Coach of the Year in 1988 and 1995, and was inducted into the (Black Hills State University) Yellow Jacket Foundation Hall of Fame in 1995.

She was also named Woman of the Year by the South Dakota Coaches Association for the 1993-94 season.

Now, after settling into the senior women’s administrator position she took in 2000 at the end of her coaching career, she’s still competing. But the foe is an elusive one, if it can even be considered a foe. Nancy Neiber is continuing to fight for equality for women in sports.

And she thinks recent changes across the field of collegiate athletics will help.

Possibly one of the most beneficial of which is Title IX.

“Title IX has allowed the opportunities for thousands of women across America to participate in sports,” Neiber said in a previous Collegian article dealing with Title IX.

She believes SDSU has done a good job in complying with Title IX legislation, which essential prohibits gender discrimination in federally-funded schools, as well as offer an equal opportunity to male and female students to play.

As the first senior women’s administrator for athletics, Neiber is in charge of overseeing sports supervision, fundraising, public relations, student athlete programs and HPER academic programs.

While the position is relatively new, Naiber said she performed many of the same functions when she was coaching, but it wasn’t official.

“I held the position of senior women’s administrator for many years; it was pretty much a name only,” said Neiber.

“Then the NCAA has not only encouraged, but required NCAA-affiliated schools to require that position.”

Neiber, who oversees six sports, wants to see athletes compete at a high level, graduate and have a great experience overall.

“That’s what we want to see happen,” she said, adding that it is important for she and her colleagues to publicize athletes, so they can be recognized for their accomplishments.

“We want to ensure that our athletes are recognized and nominated for any type of post-graduate scholarships.”

Neiber also believe the DI move will be good for women athletes.

“I truly believe that the reclassification will benefit women’s athletics at South Dakota State University,” she said.

“When we locate a league … I believe it will give our athletes the opportunity to compete against the best.”

She also believes competing in a higher division will increase scholarships for all student athletes.

As far as women’s collegiate athletics go, Neiber seemed confident in the progress has been made.

“I’ve seen a great amount of changes in what we’ve done at South Dakota State over the last 19 years as far as opportunities for women.”

But as former head basketball coach at Mitchell High School (for seven years previous to coaching at SDSU), Neiber often went up against only male coaches.

“I can’t see that there has been (an increase).”

Neiber said there may be fewer women head coaches, especially at the high school level, because there’s not the opportunity for women to play at that level in the first place. She did say more young females have been taking coaching classes and becoming assistants.

She also admits that coaching is a tough job, male or female.

“It takes an individual that has a commitment… it’s not an 8 to 5 job.”

“If you chose to coach (at the collegiate level) it’s time, energy, family … just an incredible commitment.”

Neiber also said she has left coaching behind, probably for good.

“I coached for 27 years,” she said. “I cannot see myself coaching again, ever.”

“Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my time at it, but it’s time to turn it over to the younger coaches.”

But she will continue working, in other ways, for the activities she’s always loved.

“I love to see the young women have the opportunity to play sports, to participate,” she said.

“Sports and life mirror each other. To be on a team, to be part of a group, to be heading toward the same goals … that’s so much what life’s about.”