WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – This month, 12 News is honoring community leaders as part of Black History Month. Host and reporter Felicia Rolfe sat down with Isaac Brown about becoming the first black head coach in the history of the Wichita State University men’s basketball program. Brown discussed the journey that led him to that position and how he hopes to pave the way for others.
Brown said there’s no place like Charles Koch Arena on the Wichita State campus.
“It’s an advantage anytime you can have a sixth man sitting in the stands, but the atmosphere we have, it helps you get through the victories,” he said.
Basketball has always been a part of Brown’s life. It all started in the small town of Pascagoula, Miss.
“You either work on your angles, join the military, or get into basketball, and I chose the basketball route,” Brown said.
His inspiration came from his high school basketball coach.
“I have many mentors in my life, and the main one was my high school coach, Gary Gagliano. Without him, I wouldn’t be in this position,” she said.
Brown has come a long way since his first coaching job at Pearl River Community College.
“After Pearl River Community College, I started coaching at another college in Destin, Florida called Okaloosa Walton Community College,” Brown said. “And from there, I got a job in South Alabama.”
He came to Wichita State in 2014 as an assistant under head coach Gregg Marshall. Eight days before the start of the 2020-21 season, he was named the Shocker head coach in an interim role. He was later hired to the position on a permanent basis after leading Wichita State to its first American Athletic Conference regular season title.
“I’m honoured, I’m excited. And you know, I just want to make sure I’m doing the right things,” Brown said. “So those behind me can have that same opportunity.”
Wichita State junior guard Colby Rogers said Brown is one of the reasons he came to Wichita.
As a changemaker, Brown said he wants to set a good example for those who will come after him.
“Think of all the contributions (by) people before me to get this opportunity, and I just want to give 110% every day just to work hard,” she said.