From the court room to the hardwood court, one BC Law School alum has taken her career to the highest level of basketball, the NBA. On September 11, the Memphis Grizzlies announced the hiring of MIT head woman’s basketball coach Sonia Raman ’01. She is now the fourteenth female assistant coach in the history of the men’s professional league.
Prior to earning the head coaching job at MIT, Raman worked as an assistant basketball coach at Tufts University and Wellesley College. In her 12 years leading the MIT women’s basketball team, she brought the university its first two New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) championships (2018 and 2019), earning an NCAA Tournament berth both years.
Not only does the NBA open the door to Raman’s own career advancement, it also opens the door to all young woman with dreams of coaching in the NBA and other flagship sports associations.
Alfred Yen, a professor of law at Boston College and a sports law scholar, credits the NBA and the Grizzlies for believing in Raman when women have historically been kept out of consideration for coaching positions with men’s teams.
“She’s a trailblazer, number one, because she’s making it to the NBA, and being an assistant coach, even, of a male team. But the other thing that’s happening here—and I credit the NBA and Commissioner [Adam] Silver with having the attitude to be willing to do this. By making Ms. Raman an assistant of an NBA team, if she is a successful assistant, she becomes well qualified for any women’s coaching job and well qualified for most men’s coaching jobs. BC would be very happy to hire a capable NBA assistant to coach its men’s basketball team. She’s blazing a trail that could lead to women coaching men’s teams,” Yen said.
“This whole assumption that only men can coach men or boys is, I think, a really sexist assumption. If we’ll trust women to teach men how to be lawyers why wouldn’t we be comfortable with women teaching men how to be soccer players or basketball players,” Yen added.
Raman received back-to-back NEWMAC Coach of the Year honors in 2016 and 2017. With a total of 152 victories, she remains the winningest coach in MIT women’s basketball history.
Raman begins her role as assistant coach for the Memphis Grizzlies on November 1.