Locke was at the top of a list of candidates recommended to Pitino by Karen Booker, an assistant for the Wildcat women's team. After graduating from Georgia with a degree in special education in 1981, Locke worked at her alma mater for two years as an assistant for the women's team and an academic counselor to female athletes. She then spent two years studying computer science and working for the Xerox Corporation before returning to Georgia in '85 as assistant coach and recruiter.
Because of Locke's experience in academic counseling and business, one of her side duties will be to help players find jobs after graduating. "Bernadette will work with me on the corporate level," Pitino says. "We'll have lunch once or twice a week with business executives to open avenues for players. I think this is what it's all about after graduation—placing players on the right track for success, making sure the players have a bright and rosy future."
Locke hopes her hiring will make the future rosier for other women coaches. At present, men coach 53% of all women's college sports programs, while only a handful of women direct men's programs, most of them in swimming. Locke doesn't want to make too much of her role as a pioneer, however. "After today I'm part of the team," she said upon being hired. "I want to be treated no different from any of the other coaches." When asked if she thought male players would be reluctant to take direction from her, Locke said, "Once they realize I care and I know the game and can teach it, I'll gain respect."
—WILLIAM F. REED