12 Best Women’s Basketball Coaches of All Time

We often overlook some prominent figures and the best women’s basketball coaches when talking about basketball coaches. However, many great sportspeople have coached some of the best women’s basketball teams.

When it comes to basketball teams, the women’s team is no lesser competitive than men’s. Therefore, taking the team’s helm and working with the team is not a small feat to achieve.

Barbara_Stevens_2014
Barbara Stevens 2014 (Source: Wikimedia.org)

These individuals we will be talking about here have excelled in their roles and are pioneers in women’s basketball. Hence, to pay homage to these prominent figures, we bring you the list of the best women’s basketball coaches of all time.

Without further delay, let us together get to know about these amazing individuals.

12 Best Women’s Basketball Coaches of All Time

The list has been created with references from various trusted sources around the internet like Ranker.com. However, before heading on to the details of the list, let us take a quick look at the table.

NameBirth Place
12. Gary BlairDallas, Texas
11. Andy Landers Maryville, Tennessee
10. Robin SelvigOutlook, Montana
9. Jody ConradtGoldthwaite, Texas
8. Jim Foster Abington Township, Pennsylvania
7. Muffet McGraw Pottsville, Pennsylvania
6. Sylvia Hatchell Gastonia, North Carolina
5. C. Vivian StringerEdenborn, Pennsylvania
4. Barbara StevensSouthbridge, Massachusetts
3. Geno AuriemmaMontella, Italy
2. Pat SummitClarksville, Tennessee
1. Tara VanDerveer Melrose, Massachusetts

12. Gary Blair

We will kick start our list of the best women’s basketball coaches of all time with Gary Blair. The 76 year-old is the Texas A&M Aggies women’s basketball team’s head coach.

Blair started his coaching career as the South Oak Cliff’s women’s basketball team’s first coach in 1973. Gary set a state record with five consecutive state tournament appearances in his seven seasons at South Oak Cliff.

At the Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, Texas, Blair first got his coaching experience at the collegiate level. While under his coaching, the team won seven straight conference championships and made six appearances in the NCAA Tournament.

Gary_Blair_at_Maggie_Dicon_Classic_in_Dec_2013
Gary Blair at Maggie Dixon Classic in December 2013

During his 32 years as a college head coach, Gary also coached Arkansas’s women’s basketball team. He also worked as an assistant head coach for Louisiana Tech.

Blair is listed as in the top 35 of the all-time winningest active NCAA Division 1 women’s basketball coaches. Similarly, he has reached postseason play 28 times and suffered only one losing season.

Likewise, he is one of the few coaches who have coached three different schools to national rankings and NCAA Tournament berths. In 2013, Blair was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

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11. Andy Landers

Andy Landers was born Andrew Grady Landers on October 8, 1952. He is a former American college basketball coach who retired on March 16, 2015.

Landers began his career as a coach for the Roane State Community College in 1975. He coached the Community College for over four seasons and compiled a record of 82-81.
Then from 1979 to his retirement in 2015, Landers was the head coach for the University of Georgia’s women’s basketball team, the Georgia Lady Bulldog.

Landers led the team to 16-12 records in his first season of coaching the Lady Bulldogs. Moreover, he also led the team to their first of five NCAA Final Fours. Likewise, with him as the head coach, the Lady Bulldogs won the National Championship game in 1985.

Andy_Landers_at_2011_Women's_basketball_Coaches_Association_Convention
Andy Landers at 2011 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Convention (Source: Wikimedia.org)

The other accomplishments and honors Landers allocated during his coaching career include four times National Coach of the Year and three times Southeastern Conference (SEC) Coach of the Year.

Similarly, he led the Lady Bull Dogs to 23 NCCAA Tournaments, five Final Fours, which is ranked sixth among all schools, seven SEC regular-season titles, four SEC tournament championships, and 21 twenty-win seasons.

Landers 600th career win in just 784 games at the time made him the fifth-quickest NCAA Division I women’s basketball head coach to reach the mark.

He became the Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer in 2007 and the Georgia Sports Hall of Famers as the state’s winningest college basketball coach.

10. Robin Selvig

The next on our list of the best women’s basketball coaches of all time is Robin Selvig. He is ranked eighth among all the women’s basketball coaches.

Selvig graduated from the University of Montana. He was part of the men’s basketball team and played the guard position. After graduating from the university, he started his coaching career.

From 1974 to 1975, he was part of his university’s men’s basketball coaching team. Then from 1975 to 1978, Selvig took the head coach position of the Plentywood High School.

Later in 1978, Selvig became the coach of the University of Montana’s women’s basketball team, Lady Griz. However, when he held the women’s basketball team coach position, it was in the era where it was normal to see gender discrimination in sports.

Robin_Selvig_talking_to_his_team
Robin Selvig talking to his team (Source: Instagram)

Selvig was the pioneering coach of the Lady Griz, who worked for the empowerment of female players. Moreover, he recruited female athletes from all aspects of life and established the preeminent women’s basketball program west of the Rockies.

Until 2016, Selvig was the head coach of the Lady Griz. Under his coaching, the team won NWBL two times, MWAC regular season five times, and MWAC Tournament four times.

Similarly, the team also won the Big Sky regular season eighteen times and Big Sky Tournament seventeen times under his coaching. Likewise, Selvig is a five times MWAC Coach of the Year and fifteen times Big Sky Coach of the Year.

9. Jody Conradt

Addie Jo “Jody” Conradt, more famously known as Jody Conradt, is a retired women’s basketball coach. She had a coaching career of 38 years and is a class 1999’s Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer.

Conradt played collegiate basketball at Baylor University. Jody graduated from the university with a degree in physical education. Then after her graduation, she started teaching and coaching at Waco Midway High School.

While teaching and coaching at Waco, Conradt earned her master’s degree from Baylor in 1969. Then after getting her master’s degree, she started her head coach career for the women’s basketball team at Sam Houston State University.

Jody_Conradt_after_winning_1986_NCAA_Women's_Basketball_Tournament
Jody Conradt on the right, after winning the 1986 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament (Source: Wikimedia.org)

From 1969 to 1973, Conradt served as the head coach and made a 74-23 at Sam Houston State University. Then from 1973 to 1976, she coached for the University of Texas at Arlington.

In 1975, the University of Texas created a separate women’s athletic department. The following year, Conradt was hired as the coach of the women’s basketball team. She caught national attention during that period.

The university planned to bring the women’s program to national prominence, and for them, Conradt was the right choice for the job. By the time of her retirement, her coaching record was 900-306.

Likewise, her career victories are second in all-time victories for an NCAA Division I basketball coach. Aside from being a basketball coach, Conradt also coached volleyball and softball teams.

8. Jim Foster

Jim Foster is a former basketball coach born on October 16, 1948. He had a long professional career spanning 40 years.

Foster started his coaching career at Bishop McDevitt High School. There he served as the assistant coach for the boy’s basketball team and as a head coach for the girl’s basketball team.

Then in 1978, Foster started coaching as a head coach for St. Joseph’s college. He stayed as a head coach for the college for 13 seasons, during which he compiled a record of 248-126.

Jim_Foster
Jim Foster (Source: Instagram)

In 1991, Foster started working as a head coach for the Vanderbilt women’s basketball team. Likewise, he served as a head coach for the Ohio State and Chattanooga women’s basketball teams.

Aside from working as a head coach for various colleges’ women’s basketball teams, Foster also served as an assistant coach and head coach of USA Basketball teams on nine different occasions.

Similarly, from 2013 to 2016, he worked as the Women’s Junior National Team Committee chairperson. Foster was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013. Then in 2018, he announced his retirement from his coaching career.

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7. Muffet McGraw

On our number 7 is a former college basketball coach, Muffet McGraw. She is the 27th coach to win over 500 career games in NCAA history.

McGraw played basketball during her college year at Saint Joseph’s University. Likewise, from 1979 to 1980, she played the guard position in the Women’s Professional Basketball League’s team California Dreams.

From 1977, McGraw started her coaching career at Archbishop Carroll High School. She was the head coach for the high school until 1979, and then from 1980 to 1982, she served as an assistant coach at Saint Joseph’s University.

Muffet_McGraw_at-the-2011-Women's-basketball-Coaches-Association-Convention
Muffet McGraw at the 2011 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Convention (Source: Wikimedia.org)

Similarly, she was served as a head coach for Lehigh University from 1982 to 1987. Then from 1987, McGraw was the head coach for the Notre Dame women’s basketball team for over 32 seasons.

She led the team to Final Fours nine times during her coaching career, in the National Championships two times (2001 and 2018). Likewise, the Notre Dame women’s basketball team made seven appearances in a championship game under her.

McGraw announced retirement in 2020. However, before her retirement, she was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame (2011) and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (2017).

6. Sylvia Hatchell

We have another former American women’s basketball team coach on our sixth list. Born as Sylvia Rhyne Hatchell, 70 year-old Hatchell started her coaching career for the junior high girls’ basketball team.

From 1974 to 1975, she worked as the junior varsity basketball coach at the University of Tennessee. Then Hatchell served eleven seasons as a head coach for the Francis Marion University.

In 1986, she took the head coach job at the University of North Carolina’s women’s basketball team, Tar Heels. Then, Hatchell caught the nation’s attention when under her coaching, the Tar Heels became one of the nation’s top basketball teams.

Sylvia_Hatchell_2011
Sylvia Hatchell 2011 (Source: Wikimedia.org)

Some of the notable accomplishments of Hatchell’s career include NCAA Division I Championship, three times NCAA Division I Final Four, and the NAIA championship.

Similarly, the Tar Heels won the ACC Tournament eight times and the ACC regular-season championship four times under her coaching. In addition, Hatchell was awarded the National Coach of the Year in 1994 and 2006.

Additionally, she became the ACC Coach of the Year three times and was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2004.

On April 2, 2019, due to racially insensitive comments and other controversies, Hatchell and three assistants were placed on administrative leave. Then on April 18, 2019, she resigned as the head coach of North Carolina.

5. C. Vivian Stringer

74 year-old Charlaine Vivian Stringer is a basketball head coach for the Rutgers University women’s basketball team. She has one of the best records in the history of women’s basketball.

Stringer graduated from the Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. While at the university, she was a dour sport athlete playing basketball, volleyball, softball, and field hockey.

In 1972, Stringer started her coaching career at Cheyney State. She was with the university until 1983, and then the same year, she started as the coach for the women’s basketball team of the University of Iowa.

Rutgers_women's_basketball_head_coach,_C._Vivian_Stringer
Rutgers women’s basketball head coach, C.Vivian Stringer (Source: Wikimedia.org)

From 1995, Stringer filled the head coach position for Rutgers University’s women’s basketball team Scarlet Knights.

Moreover, she is the first coach in NCAA history to lead three different women’s programs, Rutgers (2000, 2007), University of Iowa (1993), and Cheyney State (1982), to the NCAA Final Four.

In 1993, Stringer was named the Naismith College Coach of the Year. Later in 2001, she was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, and in 2009, Vivian was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

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4. Barbara Stevens

The next on our list of the best women’s basketball coaches of all time is Barbara Stevens. Born on September 20, 1954, Stevens played basketball in her college days before becoming a coach herself.

During her high school and college days, gender discrimination in the sports field was the norm. Stevens herself said about her experience, “Those of us who were interested in sports did play, but in front of very few people and with very little fanfare and very little notice.”

Despite this, she played on the school basketball team as a point guard. Stevens also played softball for two years and tennis for another two and was captain of the basketball and tennis team.

Barbara_Stevens_during_a_game
Barbara Stevens during a game (Source: Wikimedia.org)

In 1976, Stevens started her coaching career at Clark University as an assistant coach. She helped the university’s women’s basketball team win the MAIAW Division III State Championship.

Then from 1977 to 1983, she became the head coach for Clark University. Similarly, Stevens also took the helm of women’s basketball teams’ head coach for the University of Massachusetts and Bently University.

She became the Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer in 2006. In 2018, she became the fifth women’s basketball coach to reach the 1,000 win milestone. Likewise, Stevens was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2020.

3. Geno Auriemma

3rd on our list of the best women’s basketball coaches is an Italian-born American college basketball coach, Geno Auriemma.

On March 23, 1954, Auriemma was born in Italy and is the current head coach of the University of Connecticut Huskies women’s basketball team. He graduated from the West Chester University of Pennsylvania.

In 1978 after his graduation, Auriemma was hired by Saint Joseph’s University as the assistant coach. He also worked as the assistant coach for Bishop Kenrick High School and the University of Virginia’s women’s basketball team.

Auriemma started working as the head coach for the University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball team, UConn Huskies, in 1985. Under his coaching, the UConn Huskies has been to eleven NCAA Division I National championships.

cGeno-Auriemma-coach-for-UConnHuskies
Geno Auriemma coach for UConn Huskies (Source: Instagram)

Aside from coaching the college women’s basketball team, from 2009 to 2016, Auriemma was the head coach of the USA women’s national basketball team. Under his coaching, the team won the World Championships in 2010 and 2014.

Similarly, the team also won gold medals at the Summer Olympics of 2012 and 2016. In addition, Auriemma has a long list of notable accomplishments and awards. For example, he was the Naismith Coach of the Year eight times, WBCA National Coach of the Year seven times, etc.

Geno was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

2. Pat Summitt

Born as Patricia Susan Summitt, she was an American women’s college basketball coach whose professional career spanned from 1974 to 2012. Before becoming a coach, she was a college basketball player.

Summitt was the co-captain of the United States women’s national basketball team at the inaugural women’s tournament in the 1976 Summer Olympics. The team won the silver medal during the tournament.

She was the head coach for the women’s college basketball team at the University of Tennessee. When Summitt started coaching in 1974, the women’s college basketball had just started to garner the nation’s attention.

In 1984, she was the head coach for the U.S. women’s basketball team for the Summer Olympics. Under her coaching, the team brought home a gold medal.

Pat-Summitt-Texas-vs-Tennessee-2008
Pat Summitt in a game of Texas VS Tennessee 2008 (Source: Wikimedia.org)

Aside from this huge achievement, Summitt has also won eight NCAA Division I Tournament and NCAA Regional-Final Four eighteen times. Moreover, she neither missed the NCAA Tournament nor lost a single season while working as a coach for Tennessee University.

Additionally, the Sporting News in 2009 listed Summitt on 9th on the list of the 50 Greatest Coaches of All Time in all sports. In fact, she was the only woman to make it to the list.

Summitt was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999 and named the Naismith Basketball Coach of the Century in 2000. Sadly, this lady gem passed away at age 64 on June 20, 2016.

1. Tara VanDerveer

The number one on our list of the best women’s basketball coaches of all time is Tara VanDerveer. 68 year-old VanDerveer is currently the head coach for Standford University’s women’s basketball team.

From an early age, VanDerveer played basketball and other sports as well. However, there were no sports teams in her first high school. Then in her junior year, she transferred to Buffalo Seminary, an all-girls school where she played basketball.

Similarly, VanDerveer also played basketball in college, where she played in the guard position. Then, she transferred to Indiana University Bloomington, where she helped her team to reach the Final Four of the AIAW championship.

Tara-VanDerveer-in-the-2011-NCAA-Women's-Basketball-Tournament
Tara VanDerveer in the 2011 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament (Source: Wikimedia.org)

VanDerveer started her coaching career in 1978 for the University of Idaho’s women’s basketball team until 1980. From 1980 to 1985, she was the head coach for the Ohio State University’s women’s basketball team.

Then from 1985, she started coaching Stanford University’s women’s basketball team, Standford Cardinal. Under VanDerveer’s coaching, the Standford Cardinal have made it to the three NCAA Women’s Divison I Basketball Championships in 1990, 1992, and 2021.

Likewise, for the 1996 Olympic Games, she also took the helm of the U.S. national team as the head coach. She is among the nine NCAA Women’s Basketball coaches to win over 900 games.

VanDerveer was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002. Similarly, she was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011.

Conclusion

This concludes our list of the best women’s basketball coaches of all time. These individuals have excelled in their coaching role and played an important role in paving the path for women in basketball.

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