Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma and Tennessee’s Pat Summitt, who together have claimed 11 Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year awards, lead the group of four finalists for the 2011 honor, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced today. Joining them on the final ballot are Baylor’s Kim Mulkey and Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer, who won the award in 1990.
The finalists were determined by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s National Voting Academy, comprised of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country. The academy based its criteria on coaching performances this season. The vote was tabulated and certified by the accounting firm of Habif, Arogeti & Wynne, LLP. HA&W is the largest independent accounting firm in Georgia and one of the top 50 firms in the United States.
The Naismith Award is the most prestigious national award presented annually to the women’s college basketball coach of the year. The winner will be announced in early April.
“There is obviously a correlation between the success of these coaches and the fact that their programs each earned a No. 1 seed in the upcoming tournament,” said Eric Oberman, Atlanta Tipoff Club executive director. “Each has done a remarkable job of coaching this season, which is reflective of their entire careers. Each is very deserving of this prestigious award and we’re excited to crown a winner after the season.”
ABOUT THE FINALISTS
Geno Auriemma: In his 26th season at the helm, Auriemma, the BIG EAST Coach of the Year, has led UCONN to a 32-1 record. The Huskies captured the BIG EAST Regular Season and BIG EAST Tournament championships along the way, for the fourth straight season and 15th time overall. Connecticut is a No. 1 seed in the 2011 NCAA Women’s Division I Championship for the 14th time, and the fifth year in a row. Auriemma, with a career mark of 767-123, aims to win his eighth NCAA title. He has previously won the Naismith Award in 2009.
Kim Mulkey: Mulkey led the Lady Bears to a 31-2 record and captured both the 2011 regular-season and tournament Big 12 titles. She picked up the Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year honors and the team was ranked No. 1 in the country for a good part of the season. Baylor is a No. 1 seed for the first time and playing at home to start this year's NCAA women's tournament. They host SWAC tournament champion Prairie View (21-11) on Sunday at the Ferrell Center, where Baylor is 19-0 this season. Mulkey has a career mark of 295-78.
Pat Summitt: Summitt, already the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history (men or women), has eight NCAA Championships in the trophy case including her most recent back-to-back titles in 2007 and 2008. She has enjoyed one of her better coaching jobs in her 37th season, going 31-2 thus far. Over her four-decade career, the Lady Vols have gone 1,068-198. In addition, the team has won eight NCAA titles, as well as 31 Southeastern Conference tournament and regular season championships. Tennessee has made an unprecedented 30 consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament with 21 number one seeds. They enter the 2011 NCAA Women’s Division I Championship as a No. 1 seed in the Dayton Region, hosting Stetson on Saturday.
Tara VanDerveer: This season VanDerveer guided the Cardinals to the program's 20th Pac-10 regular season title, and 11th in a row, while Stanford finished a perfect 18-0 in Pac-10 play for the second straight year and sixth time overall. For her efforts, VanDerveer was named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year, marking the seventh time since the 2001-02 season and 11th time overall that she has taken home the conference's top coaching honor. VanDerveer joined the elite 800-win club back on Dec. 22 with a victory at San Francisco. Stanford (29-2) is the top seed in the Spokane Region of the 2011 NCAA Women’s Division I Championship against UC-Davis.
Last year, Connie Yori of the University of Nebraska claimed the Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year award, the first ever for a Big 12 Conference school.