Tara VanDerveer, winningest coach in college basketball, retires after 45 years

Stanford University announced Tuesday that legendary women’s basketball coach Tara VanDerveer, the winningest coach in college basketball history, is retiring. 

VanDerveer, who spent nearly four decades of her 45-year career with Stanford, retired this week after setting an NCAA record with her 1,216 victories, three national championships and 14 Final Four appearances.

Tara VanDerveer cuts net

Stanford Cardinal head coach Tara VanDerveer celebrates after her team’s victory against the Utah Utes in the championship game of the Pac-12 Conference tournament at Michelob Ultra Arena March 6, 2022, in Las Vegas. (Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)

“Basketball is the greatest group project there is, and I am so incredibly thankful for every person who has supported me and our teams throughout my coaching career,” VanDerveer said in a statement provided by the school.

“I’ve been spoiled to coach the best and brightest at one of the world’s foremost institutions for nearly four decades. Coupled with my time at Ohio State and Idaho, and as head coach of the United States National Team, it has been an unforgettable ride.

“The joy for me was in the journey of each season, seeing a group of young women work hard for each other and form an unbreakable bond. Winning was a byproduct. I’ve loved the game of basketball since I was a little girl, and it has given me so much throughout my life. I hope I’ve been able to give at least a little bit back.”

Tara VanDerveer celebrates

Stanford Cardinal head coach Tara VanDerveer celebrates at Stanford Maples Pavilion after a game against the Oregon Ducks. Tara VanDerveer tied Mike Krzyzewski with 1,202 NCAA career wins at Stanford Maples Pavilion Jan. 19, 2024, in Palo Alto, Calif.  (Brandon Vallance/Getty Images)

Already a Hall of Fame coach, VanDerveer further cemented her legacy this past season when she surpassed Mike Krzyzewski for the NCAA basketball wins record in January. 


“Tara’s name is synonymous with the sport, and women’s basketball would not be what it is today without her pioneering work,” said Bernard Muir, Stanford’s athletic director. 

“An energetic and positive teacher, a Hall of Famer, a trusted friend and mentor, Tara’s impact is simply unmatched, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to characterize her as one of the most influential people to ever be associated with this university. We will look forward to finding the appropriate ways to honor her deep impact and legacy here at Stanford.”

Tara VanDerveer celebrates 1203 wins

Stanford Cardinal head coach Tara VanDerveer celebrates her 1,203rd college coaching victory, becoming the winningest coach in NCAA Division I basketball history after a game against Oregon State University at Maples Pavilion Jan. 21, 2024, in Stanford, Calif.  (Bob Drebin/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

The school is negotiating a deal with former player Kate Paye to take over as VanDerveer’s successor. VanDerveer will officially retire May 9, the 39-year anniversary of her hiring at Stanford. 

The school said VanDerveer will continue to work with the athletics department in an advisory role.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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