January 20, 2015



(Pittsburgh, PA) Swin Cash — the charismatic WNBA star, two-time Olympic gold medalist, and philanthropist from McKeesport, PA — has been selected to receive the Chuck Cooper Leadership, Diversity and Community Service Award in recognition of her outstanding basketball career and her tireless work to improve the lives of others. She will accept the honor at the 5th Annual Chuck Cooper Foundation Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, February 18 at the Lexus Club at Consol Energy Center. Doors will open at 11:30 a.m. and the luncheon will begin at noon.    

Chuck Cooper was the Duquesne University basketball star who became the first African-American drafted by an NBA team when he was selected in the second round by the Boston Celtics on April 29, 1950. The Chuck Cooper Foundation was established in 2011 as a lasting tribute to his legacy, as was Duquesne’s annual Chuck Cooper Classic two years earlier.

Previous winners of the Chuck Cooper Leadership, Diversity and Community Service Award were Steelers scout Bill Nunn Jr. (2011), Bill Strickland of the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild (2012), Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin and his wife Kiya (2013), and the Pittsburgh Pirates organization (2014).

“I can’t imagine having a more deserving winner of this award than Swin Cash,” said Chuck Cooper III, president and founder of the Chuck Cooper Foundation, and the son of Chuck Cooper. “Her achievements on the basketball court and her track record of caring for others and making a positive impact in the community are exemplary. Swin Cash is a tremendous person and a tremendous athlete.”

At this year’s Chuck Cooper Foundation Awards Luncheon — which will be hosted by the Pittsburgh Penguins — PNC will receive the Chuck Cooper Foundation Trailblazer Award in recognition of its outstanding support, which includes serving as the presenting sponsor of the luncheon this year. In addition, the Foundation will present scholarships to six deserving graduate-level students to help ensure they further their academic careers and achieve their professional goals. Since 2013, the Foundation has distributed $31,000 in scholarships and awarded close to $3,000 in book stipends.

Chuck Cooper, a Pittsburgh native and graduate of Westinghouse High School, spent four seasons with the Celtics where he played for legendary coach Red Auerbach and was a teammate of the great Bob Cousy. During his six-year NBA career, he was also a standout performer for the Milwaukee Hawks and Fort Wayne Pistons, and he helped lead his team to the playoffs five times.

After his playing days, Cooper — who earned a bachelor’s degree in education at Duquesne and a master’s degree in social work at the University of Minnesota — became the City of Pittsburgh’s first African-American department head when he was named to lead the Parks & Recreation Department in 1970. He later enjoyed a successful career as a community development officer for PNC’s predecessor, Pittsburgh National Bank.

At the inaugural Chuck Cooper Classic in December of 2009, the two schools he played for as a collegian — Duquesne and West Virginia State — were part of a doubleheader. Every year since then, one Dukes home game has been designated as the Chuck Cooper Classic. This year that game will be the contest against Dayton on Saturday, February 21 at 2:00 p.m. at Consol Energy Center.


The Chuck Cooper Foundation is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to continuing the legacy of Charles “Chuck” Cooper, the first African-American drafted into the National Basketball Association, by awarding graduate-level scholarships and providing comprehensive leadership development, professional skills, and opportunities to underserved students.

For more information regarding the Chuck Cooper Foundation Awards Luncheon, members of the media should contact Jim Lachimia at (412) 708-9301 or Sponsorship packages are available by contacting Ariele Martinez at (412) 607-5711 or Individual tickets can be purchased at