Head Women's Basketball Coach, Columbus State University
A passionate women’s basketball coach with a contagious championship mentality, Anita Howard demands high intensity and effort from those she leads. At each of the three institutions where she has served as head coach, she has set the record for wins in a season. Howard has a career head coaching record of 110-32, winning almost 80% of her games.
In 2017, during her first season at the helm at Columbus State University, Howard matched the best record in school history (31-2). USA Today Top 25 Poll ranked CSU #4 in the nation. The Lady Cougars won the 2017 Peach Belt Conference regular season and tournament titles, while hosting and capturing the Southeast Regional Championship. Howard advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight for the first time at CSU in more than 20 years. She was named the Peach Belt Conference Coach of the Year, the John “Whack” Hyder Georgia College Coach of the Year by the Atlanta Tipoff Club, the SportsVisions Division II National College Coach of the Year, and was named the DII Moms in Coaching Coach of the Year.
In her previous roles as head coach, Howard inherited losing programs and built them into championship contenders in her first year at the helm. At Livingstone College, in the historic Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (CIAA), she took over a team that had posted a record of 27-65 the previous three seasons. Her contagious championship mentality spread like wildfire as the Lady Blue Bears advanced to the semi-finals of the CIAA conference tournament in 2015 and 2016. They also ended the 2015 season with an impressive conference best 26-2 record, setting a new benchmark in HBCU women’s basketball with the longest win streak in HBCU history (23 consecutive games). Howard’s Lady Blue Bears earned a national ranking of #5 (USA Today Top 25 Division-II Coaches Poll). Her team also earned a #1 ranking in the NCAA Atlantic Region for the first time in school history. During Howard’s inaugural season as a head coach in the CIAA, she was named CIAA Coach of the Week 6 out 10 times.
Prior to Livingstone, Howard was the head women’s basketball coach at Salem College (NC), where she took Salem from the bottom of the conference to the top in just her first season. In 2013, the Salem College basketball team completed the most successful season in the history of the Salem Athletic Department. That same year, the Spirits made it to the Great South Athletic Conference (GSAC) Championship Game for the first time in school history as a #2 seed. To cap off the season, Howard was selected as the GSAC Coach of the Year in her first season, after the program won 13 more games than the season prior to her arrival. The team finished with a 17-11 overall record and a 7-3 GSAC regular season record. Howard’s recruit, Satavia Taylor (Chicago, Ill.) became the first student-athlete in the history of the athletic department to win GSAC Player of the Year. Taylor broke several Salem basketball season records.
In Howard’s second and final season at Salem College, the Spirits won the 2014 GSAC Conference Championship for the first time in school history, which lead to the school’s first ever NCAA Tournament appearance. The season’s highlights included a 16-game win streak, coverage on Fox 8 and ESPN, and a repeat Player of the Year honor for Satavia Taylor, amongst other things. The Spirits ended the 2013-2014 season with a stellar 22-5 record.
Howard was born in Montgomery, Ala., and moved around frequently due to the military. In 1998, she graduated from Alfred Ely Beach High School in Savannah, Ga., where she participated in band, volleyball and played basketball under legendary head coach Ronald Booker. She helped to lead A.E. Beach to four Region 3AAAA Basketball Championships and four state playoff appearances en route to earning Defensive Player of the Year honors three times. In addition to being named team captain and the Defensive Player of the Year, Howard was named the 1998 Georgia High School Athletic Association (GHSAA) Player of the Year and was honored with an appearance in the Georgia Coaches Association (GACA) North/South All-Star Game. She was inducted into the A.E. Beach Hall of Fame in 2014.
She received a full athletic scholarship to play at Fort Valley State University (FVSU), where she played under legendary head coach Lonnie Bartley, the all-time winningest coach in historically black college women’s basketball history, from 1998-2001. At FVSU, she was named the Defensive Player of the Year three times and led FVSU to two Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) Conference Championships (2000 and 2001) and a SIAC runner-up finish in 1999. Off the court, she was a two time Dean’s List recipient and was named team captain of the volleyball team. There, she helped lead FVSU to a 2001 SIAC Volleyball Championship.
Howard transferred to Armstrong Atlantic State University (AASU) and helped lead the Pirates to the school's first-ever Peach Belt Conference Championship in 2003 and first-ever NCAA Tournament berth. Howard made the Peach Belt Conference Presidential Honor Roll (2001-2003) and Dean’s List, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts design.
Howard is a strong and consistent leader who strives to be a professional role model for the young ladies she has come in contact with. She believes that coaching is more than blowing a whistle and calling out plays, it’s being a teacher, mentor, a friend, and sometimes a mother figure to develop athletes into distinguished young ladies and respected leaders of tomorrow. Howard has been featured in magazines, including Woman’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Magazine and Forsyth Woman as one of the area’s “Women on the Move.”