Jerome Tang forging new path as first Black K-State basketball coach

Jerome Tang is making history in his first year coaching the Wildcats.
Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 7:12 AM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Kansas State hired Jerome Tang, a longtime assistant at Baylor under Scott Drew, as its first Black head basketball coach last spring. So far, Tang has delivered on promises to help K-State basketball resurrect a fading program. But it didn’t come without challenges.

“I was able to impact more lives on the basketball court than I could behind a pulpit,” Tang said.

A former youth pastor, Tang found that basketball became a way to connect with kids.

“I opened the church -- about 35 kids in the church,” Tang said. “I opened the guy, I have 70 guys, because I could dribble, pass and shoot, and they listened to me.”

Tang discovered his love for coaching by watching others in the profession.

“I wanted to do the same and help other guys,” Tang said. “I knew you could get better -- I learned how to help guys get better at the game and I saw how it could (make an) impact.”

Tang started at Baylor in 2003 as an assistant coach, got his degree online in 2007, then went on to help the Bears win the national championship in 2021.

“There are a lot of hurdles, man,” Tang said. “But along the way, there’s a lot of people who bless my life to help me be prepared for this, this opportunity.”

Tang notices that there aren’t many coaches in the sport who look like him.

“If somebody wants to say the first African American, I love it,” Tang said. “First Asian head (coach), I mean, I’ll take it all because I represent all of them. And so, this month, Black History Month, it encompasses more than just those who were born here.”

As a Wildcat and K-State’s first Black head coach, Tang said he’ll use the sport and his position to make way for the next generation.

“Be a star right where you are and the next job will chase you, and not you looking for the job,” Tang said. “And I’m hoping because of the job that me and my staff here (have done), that it doesn’t take years for the next 18-year-old Tang to get this type of an opportunity. I’m hoping that athletic directors and presidents out there will look and look past the color of somebody’s skin.”