Champions On and Off the Court

Kent State University Athletics is no stranger to a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.   

The Kent State women’s basketball team recently won the Mid-American Conference Tournament championship for the first time since 2002. That same year, the men’s hoops team reached the Elite Eight in March Madness. 

According to a bracket by Inside Higher Ed, the student-athletes on the 2023-24 women’s team are championship caliber. 

The publication’s Academic Performance Tournament, which pits NCAA Tournament basketball teams against each other based on academic success, shows why Kent State is a powerhouse on and off the court.   

“This team is phenomenal academically,” Kent State women’s coach Todd Starkey said Friday during a news conference. “These are true-student athletes.” 

According to the Inside Higher Ed bracket, the Golden Flashes would reach the championship game based on academic credentials. Kent State President Todd Diacon actually shared the news with the team.

The Kent State women’s basketball team has an average cumulative GPA of 3.478, which is among the best in the university’s athletic department. 


 In women’s March Madness, the 15th-seeded Golden Flashes will face No. 2 Notre Dame in a first-round game at 2:15 p.m. Saturday at the Joyce Center. It won’t be the first time Starkey leads a team during the tournament in South Bend, Indiana. 

“The last time I was in the NCAA Tournament, I was an assistant at Indiana, and we played here at Notre Dame. So there's some familiarity to being here for me,” Starkey said. 

Even though they are on the road, Kent State players know they have the entire Golden Flashes community supporting them.   

“We were just excited and we got some energy going into this, and we are going to try to use all the energy we got from winning the MAC Tournament to go into this game and just play with confidence and know that there's people watching us and supporting us,” Katie Shumate, a senior biology major and star guard, said during a news conference. 

The Kent State women's basketball team stands and listens to coach Todd Starkey during practice before the NCAA Tournament game.

Saturday’s game will not be the first time this season the women’s team has played on a national stage. Kent State faced reigning national champion LSU in November and gained valuable experience.   

Now, after winning the 2024 Mid-American Conference Tournament, Starkey said his team appreciates the significance of representing the conference.   

“It’s an honor to carry the flag,” Starkey said, “and we want to make our league proud. “We want to compete in a way that’s representative of our what our conference is.” 


POSTED: Friday, March 22, 2024 05:12 PM
Updated: Wednesday, March 27, 2024 08:34 PM