Lindsay Whalen is stepping down as Gophers head coach

The University of Minnesota women’s basketball team now needs a new head coach.

On Thursday, one day after the team was eliminated from the Big Ten Tournament, the program announced that head coach Lindsay Whalen is stepping down from her role. She will remain with the program as a special assistant to the director of athletics through April 12, 2025 β€” when her contract was set to expire β€” the university says.

“I have tremendous respect for Lindsay,” U of M Director of Athletics Mark Coyle. “I want to thank Lindsay for her hard work and dedication as a player and as the head coach of our women’s basketball program. She is one of the greatest alums and ambassadors this university has ever produced, and her legacy as a Minnesota icon is etched in stone .”

“I want to thank Mark and the university for giving me the opportunity to lead this program five years ago,” Whalen said in a statement. β€œIt was an honor of a lifetime. I am grateful to my assistant coaches and staff and want to thank them for all they have done for our student-athletes over the past five years. We did things the right way and made many memories, but now is the right time for me to step aside and go back to being a proud alum. I look forward to supporting and cheering on the next head coach.

Whalen coached the Gophers from 2018-2023 and compiled a 71-76 overall record, including 32-58 in conference play over five seasons. The team lost to 13th-seeded Penn State 72-67 in the opening game of the Big Ten Tournament on Wednesday afternoon at the Target Center, dropping the team’s record for the season to 11-19 (4-14 in conference play).

In her first season at the helm, Whalen’s team went 21-11 (9-9 in conference play) and advanced to the second round of the WNIT. However, that promising start quickly went downhill and never recovered, finishing 16-15 in 2019-20, 8-13 in 2020-21 and 15-18 last season, all with sub-.500 records in conference play.

Under Whalen, the program drafted its highest-ranked recruiting class in history in the fall of 2021, but frequent transfers from the roster also drew key contributors, including Sara Scalia last spring.

This year, the team was led by some young talent and despite the record, showed some promise to bring more hope into next season. That makes Whalen’s announcement that much more surprising.

Coyle says he and Whalen had several discussions in recent weeks and both felt now was the best time for her to step down. While she was scheduled to appear at a joint news conference with Coyle Thursday afternoon, Whalen did not attend, which Coyle attributed to a miscommunication and said she was still having discussions with the staff.

Whalen played for Minnesota from 2000-04, was the program’s first three-time All-American in school history and led the Gophers to their only Final Four in program history. The Hutchinson native then went on to star in the WNBA, including for the Minnesota Lynx, whom she helped lead to four WNBA championships. She is also a two-time Olympic gold medalist and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame last year.

The university says it will conduct a national search for Whalen’s replacement, who will be the 13th head coach in program history.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *