Sanya Tyler, Howard University's women's basketball coach, starts her day at 7 a.m.
At that hour, Tyler isn't plotting strategy or recruiting prospective players. She's on the first floor of Howard University Hospital, in the radiology department, where she works as a quality assurance technician from 7 to 3:30 p.m.
Thirty minutes after her shift ends, she dedicates herself to coaching Howard's basketball team -- running practice, recruiting high school seniors, building a Division I program.
For 14 years Tyler, 35, has maintained her job at the hospital. For four years, as a single parent, she has taken care of her daughter, Ebony. And, for five years, she has coached the Bison -- not always with the same degree of success.
This year, Howard is 0-8 -- its worst start since 1982-83 when the Bison lost their first 10 games but rebounded to finish 8-19. Still, it is a far cry from the 1981-82 season when she took the Bison to the 32-team NCAA postseason tournament.
Her job in the radiology unit is her vocation. Coaching is clearly her avocation. She gets a part-time salary, and one part-time assistant, Linda Spencer, and must compete against programs with full-time coaches, assistants and large recruiting budgets.
"Sometimes I have trouble doing it all," she said. "But Howard doesn't have a full-time slot. Out of necessity, I maintain balance. I can't live off a part-time salary so I have to keep my full-time job.
"How do I keep perspective? I know I can sleep after 16 hours."
Howard's slow start this season is mostly a result of inexperience. Seven of Tyler's 13 players are freshmen. She believes her players' biggest fault is lack of discipline, something she believes can be overcome with time.
What she doesn't like is trying to compete as a part-time coach.
"This is the end of the era when a Division I coach has two jobs," she said. "I'm probably the only Division I coach in the country who is part-time, and if I'm not, I'm one of two."
Her statement that she is one of two Division I part-time coaches in the country may be correct. In Howard's Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, all the coaches are full time, although some, such as Bethune-Cookman's Alvin Wyatt and Germaine McAuley at Maryland-Eastern Shore have other responsibilities within the athletic department.
In the Big East, ACC and ECAC South, all the women's team coaches are full time. Most have one or more full-time assistants. Maryland Coach Chris Weller has two full-time assistants; George Washington's coach, Denise Fiore, has one full-time assistant. Of the 276 Division I coaches in the country, the only other part-time coach is believed to be Paul Hindes at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.
"Being a part-time coach means frustration," Tyler said. "I don't have the luxury of tending to my players' needs. I'm available all day and they know where to reach me, but. . . ."
What would it take for Howard to elevate its women's coach to the status of her colleagues?
"I don't think Howard is under any pressure to do it," Tyler said. "It's not that the athletic department doesn't want that. It has to take a commitment by the institution. I guess it's just higher up the ladder."
Howard's commitment to its women's basketball program is paradoxical. Leo Miles, the school's athletic director, reports that the seven freshmen on the team are all on full scholarships, but that Tyler hasn't been made a full-time coach, because "we're in a period of austerity."
"It's an institutional decision," Miles said. "We (the athletic department) have recommended it . . . Those are the hard, cold facts of it. Our women's coach isn't full time. But our track coaches aren't full time, either, and they go to the NCAAs every year. We have a whole bunch of part-time coaches: baseball, swimming, track, cross country."
Recruiting has been particularly difficult for Tyler, but she has managed to lure some fine players to the school.
Two years ago, she brought three-time high school all-America Vannessa Graham to Howard. Last year, she signed Courtney Bullard. Bullard, a top prospect from the Miami area, was recruited heavily by Miami, Florida and Florida State, and might be the most talented freshman in the area. Earlier this year against Maryland, Bullard, shooting in her characteristically awkward style -- elbows out, ball spinning sideways -- scored 28 points and had 15 rebounds.
"We're just darn lucky to sign Courtney Bullard," Tyler said. "If I were a full-time coach, I'd have a team full of Courtney Bullards. I'm a heck of a recruiter.
"We've got everything -- the school, the schedule, the etiquette," Tyler said. "We just don't have the time of day to court these kids. You get three home visits and you have to see them early and you have to see them late."
But, as things stand, with Tyler and her part-time assistant only being able to recruit part time, she admits, "We have no business getting away with what we're doing." She does not tell her recruits that she is not full time.
She laments that so many of the Washington area's top prospects choose colleges away from home and that she and her assistant are forced to recruit outside the area. "You have to have business hours to go out and court these kids. We just hope they play their games on weekends," she said.
That so many basketball players are choosing schools outside the area pains Tyler because Washington is the area where her knowledge and contacts are greatest. The contacts she developed as an assistant coach at Ballou High School in the early '70s and as a basketball official after that are of increasingly little use to her.
She professes that "if I'm guilty of anything, I'm guilty of forcing my athletes to look beyond the basketball court, to build a career. It's important that they leave here functional; that they don't have to go back home and work in McDonald's."