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Funeral for former Mississippi State women’s basketball coach McCray-Penson set for Saturday

Photo courtesy of Mississippi State Athletics

Funeral arrangements have been announced for former Mississippi State women’s basketball coach Nikki McCray-Penson.

McCray-Penson, who coached the Lady Bulldogs during the 2020 season, died last week at the age of 51 due to secondary complications related to breast cancer. She will be laid to rest on Saturday, July 15 at Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tenn. Visitation will begin at 1 p.m.

“It is with a heavy heart that we mourn the passing of Nikki McCray-Penson,” current Mississippi State head women’s basketball coach Sam Purcell said. “She was an incredible basketball coach and a true leader of women, but more importantly, she was a loving mother and wife. Nikki and her family will continue to be in our hearts and prayers.”

During her lone season in Starkville, McCray-Penson led the Lady Bulldogs to a 10-9 overall record during a season shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic. She later resigned, citing health concerns after initially being diagnosed with cancer in 2013.

McCray-Penson spent three seasons as the head coach at Old Dominion prior to accepting the Mississippi State job, turning the Lady Monarchs into a postseason-caliber program. As a player, the University of Tennessee alumna was selected to three WNBA All-Star Games while earning gold medals at the 1996 and 2000 Summer Olympics.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.

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