Tara VanDerveer: the winningest coach in NCAA history, retires

Stanford's beloved head coach Tara VanDerveer announced her retirement after 38 seasons. Stanford announced their long-time women's basketball coach will work with Stanford's Athletics department in an "advisory capacity."

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The Women's basketball world said goodbye to the best to ever coach the game. Late Tuesday evening, Stanford announced their longtime coach will be hanging up her playbook. Tara VanDerveer, 70, became the NCAA's all-time winningest coach earlier this year. With 1,216 wins, she will step back from the game she coached for over four decades.

Related Article: Tara VanDerveer is now the winningest coach in NCAA history

A Massachusetts native, VanDerveer turned to coaching after playing basketball for the University of Albany and Indiana. Less than five years after her collegiate career, Tara VanDerveer was named head coach of Idaho University for two seasons. After becoming the head coach of Ohio State University for five seasons, California called her home. In 1985 she was named head coach of Stanford University, where she was the women's basketball head coach for the next 38 seasons.

And 38 years later, VanDerveer is largely considered one of the pioneers who helped shape and pave the way in women's basketball. With dreams of playing basketball as a child, she became more than just a player. A legend in the basketball world, she leaves behind a legacy that is inspiring, and deeply impactful.

As for VanDerveer, she feels she "is leaving" the game in a great place, especially since women's basketball is in the greatest place it's ever been. Passing on the baton, VanDerveer said it's "exciting" to see where women's basketball is. Even as a young woman, she always saw the vision of women's basketball to where it is now.

Throughout her illustrious career, VanDerveer is a three-time NCAA Champion, with 14 Final Four appearances. Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011, the Massachusetts native is a 15-time Pac-12 Champion, and five-time National Coach of the Year, who's coached several high-profile athletes. She coached several legendary stars, including Cameron Brink, Nneka Ogwumike, Chiney Ogwumike, Jennifer Azzi, Nicole Powell, and numerous others.

(Photo: Shawn McLurkin/Ballislife|IG: @slmclurkin)

An NCAA Champion in 1990, 1992, and 2021, VanDerveer has a 1158-242 coaching record. In 38 seasons with the Cardinal, the long-time coach compiled a 1065-220 win/loss record.

Coach VanDerveer and the Cardinal fell short in this year's NCAA Tournament after they were bounced by NC State in the Sweet 16. VanDerveer retired just days after the tournament concluded, marking the end of an era for the Pac-12. While one of the most competitive conferences is dissolving after this season, Stanford will join the ACC next season.

Speaking of the ACC, VanDerveer firmly stated the conference change did not affect her retirement decision. If anything she felt it was a "motivator to stay," and anticipates the ACC will be a "great, great, league."

(Photo: Shawn McLurkin/Ballislife|IG: @slmclurkin)

Wednesday afternoon, VanDerveer hinted at reasons why she decided to call it a career during a livestream:

"I felt it was time, VanDerveer told the media during the livestream. Although she is stepping down from coaching, she hopes to remain involved as an "ambassador" or "advisor" with the Stanford Athletics Department. Admitting she "retired 20 times" in her mind, VanDerveer stated her mom is 97 years old, and the game has "changed a lot over the last four years."

Coaching Women's basketball is a 24/7 job, between recruiting, meetings, and coaching. Even on vacation, VanDerveer dedicated every moment she had to coach.

As for her successor, former Stanford and WNBA player Kate Paye is likely to her place. Having spent the last 17 years as an assistant and assistant to coach VanDerVeer, Paye has extensive experience with the program. Having nothing but praise for Paye, VanDerveer described her as "brilliant" and "hardworking." If Paye is the successor, the Stanford Cardinal will start a new chapter in the ACC, without star Cameron Brink. However, junior forward Kiki Iriafen showed just how valuable she is to the program.

Leaving her legacy in Paolo Alto, Tara VanDeveer has forever changed the landscape of women's basketball. Now she gets to enjoy life after coaching, witnessing the sport she contributed to evolving, soar to new heights.

Stay tuned for more NCAA and WNBA related articles.

Sara Jane Gamelli is a full-time Sportswriter, Content Creator and Social Media Manager for Ballislife Bets. She has a focus on the NBA, WNBA, NCAA Basketball, and the NFL. Sara Jane currently resides in the Connecticut/NYC area with her Cat and Dog. SJ has her undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut in Economics, with a minor in business administration.


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