Basketball coaches dress ‘down’ as pandemic season continues

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Jason Freund and Kyle Betz

Rather than dressing in formal attire, men’s basketball head coach Brian Dutcher (left) and women’s basketball head coach Stacie Terry-Hutson dress in athletic gear during games amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

by Breven Honda, Senior Staff Writer

Before the pandemic shut down hoops last March, basketball coaches at the professional, collegiate and high school levels would wear professional attire on gameday. 

That meant dresses and heels for the women; and suits, ties and formal shoes for the men.

When the NBA resumed its 2019-20 season in late July following a four-month shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, both head coaches and the assistants from all 30 teams were not wearing a suit and tie nor a dress to go along with a pair of fancy shoes. 

Instead, they wore athletic attire or a collared shirt to go with a pair of basketball shoes, as if they were coaching an early morning practice or afternoon shootaround.

That dress code has trickled down to the collegiate level in both men and women’s basketball.

As of Jan. 12, 21 games have been played between the San Diego State men and women’s basketball programs. 

Women’s basketball head coach Stacie Terry-Hutson (right) talks to assistant coach Nick Grant during a timeout during the Aztecs’ 75-71 loss to Cal Baptist on Dec. 2, 2020 at Viejas Arena. All members of the women’s basketball coaching staff wear athletic gear. (Kyle Betz)

That’s eleven games for the men’s team and ten games for the women’s team in which the coaches have not had to wear formal attire for a game.

Aztecs women’s head coach Stacie Terry-Hutson said she can be more assertive now than if she was in a dress and heels.  

“I love it,” Terry-Hutson said. “This may be how you see from here on out. I can be much more aggressive and run on the floor. I am not missing dressing up at all. You might see a new side of us.” 

A “new side” might mean more dynamic ways to coach players during games. 

For example, during the men’s basketball game against Colorado State on Jan. 2, assistant coach Dave Velasquez was in an athletic defensive stance teaching one his players how to stay low without risking any formal pants being torn. 

Men’s basketball head coach Brian Dutcher said he was ready to bring out his latest suits this season, but that did not go as planned with his assistants, such as Velasquez.   

“Well, I bought some new suits, so I’m a little disappointed,” Dutcher said. “I had some nice new suits but my assistant coaches like playing without suits, so I don’t mind wearing the nice, tailored sweat tops for the game or the collared shirts.”

Men’s basketball head coach Brian Dutcher talks to a referee during the Aztecs’ 78-65 win over Colorado State on Jan. 4 at Viejas Arena. (Jason Freund)

As a result of wearing athletic attire or a polo for a game, coaches can showcase the team logo on them rather than when they wear a suit and tie or a dress, where outfits would be based on color combinations.

Dutcher said the athletic outfits might remain the attire in the future, unless professional coaches decide to revert back to dressing more formally.  

“It’s something that may stay in college basketball,” Dutcher said. “I think if the NBA, when COVID is behind us, goes back to suit and ties, then college may. This is something you see from now moving forward that coaches are dressed (more) like coaches than bankers.”

No matter the attire, Terry-Hutson said she is ultimately appreciative to play during this pandemic season.

 “We’re just grateful to be able to play, so whatever we have on doesn’t affect us,” Terry-Hutson said. “We’re just grateful to be here. We’ve had a lot of people working really hard to get us to this point where we can play games. So we’re going to take advantage of every opportunity no matter what we’re wearing. I think we’re all grateful to wear tennis shoes.”

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