WNBA legend and Naismith Memorial Football Hall of Famer Tina Thompson has been fired as Virginia’s women’s basketball coach after she completed her fourth losing season at the helm of the Cavaliers.
Virginia athletics director Carla Williams, who hired Thompson in 2018, announced Thursday the termination of Thompson’s contract, which has one year left.
“Unfortunately, we haven’t seen the kind of success this program expects and deserves,” Williams said in a statement. “I am grateful for coach Thompson’s efforts and wish her all the best.”
Thompson went 30-63 in Virginia on her first job as head coach, and failed to guide the Cavaliers to a top spot in the first half in the ACC.
The Cavaliers, who had their 2020-21 campaign canceled due to injuries and complications from the pandemic, finished 2021-22 with a score of 5-22 (2-14 in ACC play plus two losses) after losing to Wake Forest in the first round of the ACC Championship.
The school said a national search would begin immediately to find Thompson’s successor.
As the first pick in the inaugural WNBA draft in 1997, Thompson is one of the major players in the league. Her playing career, primarily with the Houston Comets but also in stints with the Los Angeles Sparks and Seattle Storm, includes four consecutive WNBA titles with the Comets (1997-2000) and eight All-WNBA titles. She was the league’s top scorer until Diana Torassi overtook her in 2017. Thompson also won Olympic gold medals with Team USA in 2004 and 2008.
Virginia’s women’s basketball program has a history of success dating back to the 1980s and 1990s. Under longtime coach Debbie Ryan, the Cavaliers made 24 NCAA Championship games and advanced to seven Elite Eights between 1988 and 1996. With Dawn Staley on the ground, Virginia made three consecutive Finals from 1990 to 1992 and fell in the national championship game in 1991.
Virginia last won the Premier League title in 2000 and the Conference Championship crown in 1993.
The program recently spawned WNBA draftsman Jocelyn Willoughby, who played half of her career under Thompson before being drafted in the first round by Phoenix Mercury and traded to the New York Liberty.
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