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Throughout his basketball playing career, Corliss Williamson was known as “Big Nasty.” The term described his style of play. He was known as a “bruiser,” a guy that would bump and bang down low. Now as a Division I college coach he is not distancing himself from his playing style. For the 2010-11 season, Coach Williamson takes over a University of Central Arkansas team that is completing its transition from Division II to Division I with limited success. Williamson aims to be a hands-on coach. He also hopes to use his reputation to boost the image of a fledgling program. [Note: Coach Williamson’s team started 1-2 in the 2010-11 season.]


1. Does (how does) growing up in Arkansas and playing collegiate basketball at the University of Arkansas help Corliss Williamson as a coach? What about playing in the National Basketball Association?

2. Williamson says he is an “Arkansan, through and through” and that he “didn’t want to have to leave the state of Arkansas” for a Division I head coaching position. In what way(s) does this sentiment reflect servant leadership (maybe of a different variety from that expressed in the text)?

3. Corliss Williamson hints that he plans to emulate his mentor, Nolan Richardson. That “big nasty” style of coaching is best expressed when he says, “Either you play defense or you sit down.” How would you describe his leadership style?

4. While we are at it, let’s talk about gender and coaching. We have numerous examples of successful female and male head coaches in women’s college basketball. There are also plenty of examples of successful male coaches in men’s college basketball, but no female coaches. What do you think about the possibility of a female head coach in men’s college basketball?

SOURCE: D. O’Neil, “That’s Head Coach Corliss Williamson,” (Retrievable online at

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