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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer Retires With ACC Move Looming

  • She became the all-time winningest basketball coach in NCAA history in January.
  • The school joins the ACC next season, one reason star player Cameron Brink cited for jumping to the WNBA.
John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

The winningest coach in college basketball is saying goodbye.

Stanford women’s basketball coach Tara VanDerveer announced her retirement Tuesday. She spent 45 years as head coach of Idaho, Ohio State, and Stanford, where she spent 38 seasons and won three national championships, most recently in 2021. In January, she passed Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the record books with her 1,203rd career win. After the Cardinal made a trip to the Sweet 16 this year, her record stands at 1,216 wins.

Kate Paye, who played under VanDerveer in the 1990s and coached under her for the last 17 seasons, is in negotiations to take over the program, the school announced. VanDerveer will stay on in an advisory capacity for the school and athletic department.

VanDerveer’s departure coincides with the dissolution of the Pac-12 and the subsequent splintering of a women’s college hoops powerhouse. Stanford, Cal, and SMU are set to join the ACC next season, and the Cardinal will live the bicoastal lifestyle as they clock more than 3,000 miles to get to Boston College and Miami.

On Wednesday, the legend denied that the conference move had any bearing on her decision. “It has nothing to do with going into the ACC,” VanDerveer said in a press conference. The coach said she would have relished competing against the East Coast powerhouses in that league.

It’s a brutal commute, especially for non-football sports that play midweek games, and it was part of the reason VanDerveer’s best player is taking off for the WNBA.

“As much as I love my coaching staff and my teammates, I don’t want to travel across the country,” Cameron Brink said while explaining her decision on The Bird and Taurasi Show on ESPN.

Brink had one year of eligibility remaining and could’ve stayed on at Stanford, but will instead get drafted to the WNBA on Monday. She’s projected to be the No. 2 pick, currently held by the Los Angeles Sparks, which just lost another one of VanDerveer’s former power forwards, Nneka Ogwumike, to the Seattle Storm.

VanDerveer had previously said she was “thrilled to be in the ACC” after Plan A, staying in the Pac-12, fell through. But, she said more charter flights, for most if not all matchups, would be necessary to remain competitive in the new conference. Like many schools, Stanford football takes a charter for all road games, men’s and women’s basketball fly private for most road games, and Olympic sports fly commercial except for the postseason, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

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