UTC's Foster ready for Women's College Basketball Hall of Fame induction

photo Jim Foster, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Lady Mocs basketball coach, speaks to supporters shortly after he was named to the post in May.


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New University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball coach Jim Foster drove down the road with avid UTC fan Henry Davenport several years ago when Foster coached at Vanderbilt.

After hearing a commercial on the radio about soft drinks, Foster turned to Davenport -- now deceased -- and asked a question.

"'Which do you prefer: Pepsi or Coke?'" Foster recalled asking. "He looked at me and said, 'I don't know, Jim. I've never thought about that. I'm not going to have an opinion on something that I've never thought about.'"

Foster has the same theory about the next big moment of his life.

Foster, who was hired by new UTC athletic director David Blackburn on May 9, will be inducted into the Women's College Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday.

"I'm sure it will hit me when I'm there," Foster said. "But I'm not going to predetermine what my feelings are. I have to experience things. I've been asked about a lot of things, but I have to experience them."

Foster will be added alongside the likes of former Tennessee rival Pat Summitt, his friend and former assistant Geno Auriemma, longtime Texas coach Jody Conradt and the late Jim Smiddy from Bradley Central High School, who were all part of the inaugural class in 1999.

Foster's college teams -- St. Joseph's, Vanderbilt and Ohio State -- have achieved 783 wins for him as the boss. He led Vandy to the 1993 Final Four and led the Buckeyes to 10 straight NCAA tournaments before being released after an 18-13 2012-13 season, which resulted in him landing at UTC.

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"I'm not done," he said Thursday. "I won a lot more than we lost. I had some success and I've been doing it a long time. It's not something people do for a long time, especially today."

Foster's resume would jump out to any athletic director in search of a women's basketball coach. Teams he coached reached the NCAA tournament in 26 of the last 29 seasons. Those are just his college squads.

He has coached in every major international competition except the Pan-Am games. He has coached on USA Olympic staffs and is currently the chair of USA Basketball women's junior team national committee.

"As you go along, it has little to do with you and more with the folks you've been with and worked with," Foster said. "I've had a lot of good players and a lot of good assistants. I've coached an All-American at every school, and we're going to try hard to make it four."

Foster said he has no idea what to expect this weekend except for the mixture of support he knows he'll receive. He said friends who are coaches, obviously, will attend his induction ceremony, but so will a chef, a surgeon, a couple of attorneys and probably some surprises.

"An eclectic mix of people who are my friends," Foster said. "Getting them in the same room for the first time to meet each other -- they're different geographically and from different times in my life -- that will be one of the neat aspects of the weekend."

Contact David Uchiyama at duchiyama@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.