Betty Jaynes, the first executive director of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, died Monday after a brief illness, the WBCA announced. She was 68.
Jaynes, who also coached at Madison College (now James Madison) from 1970-82 was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000 and was honored by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame with its John Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.
“Thinking of Betty Jaynes and the 35 yrs that I’ve marveled at her passion and love for the game,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma tweeted Monday night. “Her smile lit the way for so many of us.”
She led the WBCA in its goal to unify coaches at all levels and helped women’s basketball develop. She became CEO of the organization in 1996. The WBCA grew from 212 members to more than 3,000 when she retired in November 2001.
“Betty was like a mother to many of us; a good friend to all of us,” said WBCA CEO Beth Bass, who succeeded Jaynes in 2001. “For me, both personally and professionally, she was an adviser, mentor, confidant and my closest friend. Women’s basketball and the WBCA were not just her livelihood; they were her entire life.”
Even after her retirement, Jaynes, who was referred to as “jump shot” by her close friends, stayed involved with the WBCA as a consultant. She handled educational programming, advocacy and special projects.
“We are all deeply saddened by the loss of Betty Jaynes,” said Florida State coach and WBCA president Sue Semrau. “She built the WBCA from the ground up. She helped give coaches of women’s basketball a voice and successfully fought for those of us in this profession to be treated equitably. Each of us who coaches women’s basketball owes Betty a huge debt of gratitude.”
A native of Covington, Ga., Jaynes attended Newton County H.S. where she lettered in basketball for four years and was a two-time All-State selection. She helped lead her team to a 33-1 record and a berth in the 1963 Class AA state championship game in Atlanta her senior year. Jaynes earned her Bachelor of Science degree in physical education from Georgia College in 1967 and her Master of Science degree in the same field from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro in 1968. She joined Madison College that year as an assistant professor of physical education with primary teaching duties in gymnastics, tennis and swimming.
Jaynes was the tournament director for the 1975 AIAW Large College National Basketball Championships, which boasted the first championship game sellout in the modern era of women’s basketball.
“She’s one of the reasons why we have an opportunity to make the salaries we do,” Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said. “She fought for us. … it’s a really sad day for women’s college basketball coaches because Betty has been doing this for a long time.”