The Carol Eckman Award is presented annually to an active WBCA member coach who exemplifies Eckman's spirit, integrity and character through sportsmanship, commitment to the student-athlete, honesty, ethical behavior, courage and dedication to purpose. The award is named in honor of the late Carol Eckman, the former West Chester State College coach, who is considered the "Mother of the Women's Collegiate Basketball Championship." Eckman organized the first women's basketball championship at West Chester in 1969 and continued to garner recognition and support for the women's game until her death from cancer in 1985.
"Congratulations to Jan on being selected as the Carol Eckman Award recipient," said WBCA CEO Beth Bass. "Your commitment to women's basketball has been exceptional and you have done an astounding job in encouraging young women to have a deeper appreciation for the game."
Ross is currently in her 17th season as an assistant coach on the Oklahoma basketball staff. She has assisted in helping the Sooners win six Big 12 Conference regular-season titles, four Big 12 postseason championships and advance to 12 consecutive NCAA Tournaments, including the 2002 National Championship game and back-to-back national semifinal games in 2009 and 2010.
Ross' area of emphasis as an assistant coach includes coaching the Sooners frontcourt, recruiting and scouting opponents. She has played a huge role in the academic progress of the student-athletes and has helped Oklahoma post a team grade point average of 3.0 or better for 26 of the 32 semesters she has been with the program. The women's basketball program has produced 87 Academic All-Big 12 selections in 16 seasons and has had four student-athletes earn Academic All-America first team honors.
Ross began her coaching career at her alma mater, Oklahoma Christian University, where she served as assistant coach for five years. Following her time at OCU she became a head coach at Del City (Okla.) High School from 1991-95.
The Chickasha, Okla., native graduated from Oklahoma Christian University with a bachelor's degree in mathematics and from the University of Oklahoma with a master's degree in sports administration. She still owns the Oklahoma Christian University school record for career steals (300) and was inducted into the OCU Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003.
Ross was diagnosed with cancer in April 2012. Throughout her fight with the disease, she kept as normal a life as possible, hardly taking any time off from work. She also purchased a pink ladder and planned to use it as a motivational symbol for her team, having each player write a six-word saying on the ladder that summarized the player's journey as an athlete. In her most recent checkup she was determined to be cancer free.
Ross will be formally recognized during the third annual WBCA Awards Show, which will be held at 5 p.m. CT Monday, April 8, in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center's New Orleans Theater. This event is part of the WBCA National Convention and is held in conjunction with the NCAA® Women's Final Four® in New Orleans.