The incomparable Jacques Curtis, head coach of the Shaw University Lady Bears basketball team, is in his 21st year at one of the nation’s most successful programs.
Coming off a 7-22 overall record and 2-16 mark in league action, Curtis and his staff will look to make steps of improvement heading into the 2019-20 season. Prior to last season's campaign, the Lady Bears finished 6-23 overall and 3-13 in the CIAA during the 2017-18 season.
2016-17 also saw growing pains for the Lady Bears, as Shaw concluded its season 11-18 overall and 8-8 within the CIAA. Despite the record, the Lady Bears had some remarkable comeback wins against Fayetteville State and 2017 CIAA Champions, Johnson C. Smith in C.C. Spaulding. Shaw had one player named to the North Carolina Sports Information Association (NCCSIA) College Division All-State Second Team.
The legacy of women's basketball at Shaw has been built tirelessly, diligently and successfully by Curtis, his staff, and the many student-athletes who have been fortunate enough to don the Garnet and White jerseys of the Lady Bears.
During his tenure, the Shaw women’s basketball program has risen to a level never before seen at the university. In his 17 years at Shaw, he has compiled an impressive 364-165 record, giving him a .688 winning percentage.
Not only has he guided the Lady Bears to six CIAA Tournament Championships in eight years, but he has also lifted the program to national prominence - with appearances in the NCAA Division II Tournament in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2015.
In the 2005, 2006 and 2011 appearances, Shaw won the South Atlantic Region and thus earned a trip to the Elite Eight. 2011 was also the year that the Lady Bears - for the first time in program history - advanced to the national semi-finals.
Through the years, Curtis has reached numerous goals and worn many hats at the university. He will be the first to tell you that his success is due to the players who have been part of the team since he started as coach in 2000.
Today he is seen as an educator and a role model to his players, a student of the ever-changing game, and one of the most successful women’s basketball coaches in the nation.
But his players maintain he is more than just a coach.
They talk of the opportunities afforded them with a degree in life lessons from Curtis and a diploma from Shaw.
Along with their success on the court, Curtis’ student athletes have had tremendous productivity in the classroom. Coach Curtis has a 100 percent graduation rate for Lady Bears who have completed four years of eligibility at Shaw.
During Curtis’ tenure as a head coach, the Lady Bears have had a cumulative GPA of over 3.00 and have consistently placed over half the team on the Shaw Honor Roll or on the conference all-academic team.
As the head women’s basketball coach, Curtis has implemented a number of programs that provide opportunities outside the classroom for the young women under his tutelage.
The squad has its own Toastmaster’s chapter. In the past, the chapter champion, Tavia Clemendor, won the local competition against high-level professional executives. The team also performs countless hours of community service.
His student graduation rate at Shaw University is one of the highest in the nation. All the student-athletes who have completed their eligibility have either earned their degree, or are in the process of completing their degrees.
Curtis was named coach of the Lady Bears in 2000. Prior to that, he served as an assistant coach at Shaw, before being named the head men’s basketball coach of his alma mater, Savannah State University in 1998, amassing a 20-34 record in two seasons.
Curtis graduated from Savannah State University with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering Technology, and went on to earn a master’s degree in Information Science from North Carolina Central University.
Originally from Savannah, Georgia, Curtis now lives in Raleigh. He is married to Michelle and has two sons, Jacquim and Jamile.