Yolett McPhee-McCuin: Women’s sports is on the rise. The Oxford and Ole Miss community need to ‘catch up’

Minutes after the Ole Miss women’s basketball team defeated Florida, 81-70, for its second straight Soutehastern Conference victory head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin had something else on her mind and she wanted to speak her peace.

Earlier on Thursday the financials for the Ole Miss athletics department for 2023 Fiscal Year (July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023) were reported and in said report it showed the women’s basketball program was at a deficit of over $8.4 million.

That paired with what could be described as a low-attendance for the game against the Gators led to McCuin offering up strong words in her opening statement of the post game press conference regarding her program, support for it and women’s sports as an entity.

“If you’ve been paying attention to the landscape of women’s sports there is no doubt women’s sports is on the uptick,” McCuin started. “From viewership, from the level of talent, from the investments, from the NIL space to programs, administrations. Our time is now and no matter what the narratives people try to go out there and create, women’s basketball is a legitimate entity in the sports world.

“One of the things that we’re fighting for right now is to get units for our play. If my team had received the units our men’s team would have received for the run we made last year we would have brought in thousands of dollars. What I’m trying to get the Oxford community to do is to catch up because the rest of the world has caught up to the fact women’s sports is legit and it’s real. So I’m not going to allow people to make it seem like what we do doesn’t matter. I’m not going to allow people to make it seem I haven’t earned what I’ve gotten. I’m not going to make it seem like our women are less than. Because that is a false narrative out there and the Oxford community needs to catch up to that and that’s the truth.”

Less than 24 hours removed from the Ole Miss men’s team hosting Arkansas with a student section filled to capacity, causing other students to be shifted to the upper level of the SJB Pavilion there were plenty of seats available in ‘Club Red’ on Thursday.

Attendance to Ole Miss women’s games has been an emphasis for McCuin with the success the program has experienced.

The program set an attendance record earlier this season with over 9,000 fans for the LSU game earlier this month.

The last time the Pavilion was close to that full for a women’s game was last season against No. 1 South Carolina, a game Ole Miss lost in overtime. In fact losses to both the Gamecocks and Tigers are not reasons McCuin is allowing any longer for those who chose to not support her team the rest of the season.

“We’re behind. It’s disappointing and its not going to stop what we do,” McCuin added. “We’re going to win and people are going to show up when they think it’s a big game. People love to say, ‘Well, they can’t win the big game.’ Are you kidding me? Have you seen what we’ve done here since I arrived? Are we being serious right now? Yeah, the teams we’re losing to are Top 10 in the country. Like, let’s wake up. Then when we win, sometimes it just happens that we’re on the road.”

Ole Miss (14-5, 4-2 SEC) has another big game matchup at home on Sunday, hosting Tennessee at 2 p.m. CT. The Volunteers are one of three SEC teams the Rebels have not beaten in the McCuin era.

McCuin did not limit her words to just defending her team or women’s basketball. She referenced all Ole Miss women’s sports teams.

“I’m just an advocate for women’s sports. I didn’t just talk about my program,” McCuin said. “I talked about women’s soccer, women’s golf, women’s volleyball. Ole Miss doesn’t have to just be a men’s school. That’s what I’m trying to educate our fans. Ole Miss can be an everything school. I know football is king. I get it. I go the games. I support them. I support Chris Beard. I support Mike Bianco. I support all sports. But don’t make it seem — it doesn’t have to be less than.”

Latest news
Related news