Tara VanDerveer retirement: Stanford women’s basketball icon exits as winningest head coach in NCAA history


“The GOAT says goodbye.”

So read Stanford’s official press release announcing the retirement of legendary women’s basketball coach Tara VanDerveer.

VanDerveer is retiring after 38 seasons as the head coach of the Cardinal and 45 seasons as a head coach at the Division I level. The basketball icon leaves the game with 1,216 career wins โ€” the most by any coach in NCAA history.

VanDerveer, 70, is hanging it up after No. 2 seed Stanford fell to No. 3 seed NC State in the Sweet 16 in March. She led the Cardinal to a national championship as recently as 2021, bringing three titles to Stanford in her tenure (1990, 1992).

In her Hall of Fame career, VanDerveer led Stanford to 14 Final Fours, 27 Pac-12 regular-season titles and 15 Pac-12 Tournament titles.

She also collected a long list of accolades. She was voted National Coach of the Year five times and Pac-12 Coach of the Year 18 times. Beyond college basketball, she also led the U.S. women’s national team to a gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

For more information on VanDerveer’s retirement and everlasting impact on women’s college basketball, The Sporting News has you covered below.

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Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer announces retirement

VanDerveer announced her retirement through a press release on Stanford’s website.

“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.

“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,” she wrote in the official statement.

Stanford also noted that VanDerveer will continue to work with the university and athletics department in an “advisory capacity.”

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Most head coaching wins in NCAA history

VanDerveer retires as the all-time winningest NCAA men’s or women’s basketball coach.

She finished with 1,216 total wins, collecting 1,285 in 38 seasons at Stanford, 110 in five seasons at Ohio State and 42 in two seasons at Idaho.

VanDerveer holds a slim three-win lead over UConn head coach Geno Auriemma for the most in NCAA history. She and Auriemma surpassed former Duke men’s coach Mike Krzyzewski during the 2023-24 season.  

Rank Name Years Wins Schools
1 Tara VanDerveer 45 1,216 Stanford, Ohio State, Idaho
2 Geno Auriemma* 39 1,123 UConn
3 Mike Krzyzewski 47 1,202 Duke, Army
4 Herb Magee 54 1,144 Jefferson
5 Harry Statham 52 1,122 McKendree
6 Pat Summitt 38 1,098 Tennessee
7 Barbara Stevens 43 1,058 Bentley, UMass, Clark
8 Dave Holmquist* 47 1,056 Biola, Fresno Pacific
9 C. Vivian Stringer 50 1,055 Rutgers, Iowa, Cheyney
10 Danny Miles 45 1,040 Oregon Tech

*Indicates active head coach.

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Who will replace Tara VanDerveer as Stanford head coach?

In the same release that announced VanDerveer’s retirement, Stanford announced that “negotiations are underway” to promote associate head coach Kate Paye to replace VanDerveer.

Paye played under VanDerveer from 1991-95, winning a national championship as a player in 1992. She has been a member of VanDerveer’s coaching staff for 17 seasons, also winning a national championship with the Cardinal in 2021.

Paye will take on the tough task of succeeding one of the greatest coaches in basketball history as Stanford makes the move from the Pac-12 to the ACC.

She will take on a roster that is headlined by senior guards Kiki Iriafen and Elena Bosgana, and sophomore forward and former five-star recruit Courtney Ogden.



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