Gophers hire Dawn Plitzuweit as next women’s basketball coach

Just more than two weeks after Lindsay Whalen stepped down as basketball coach at her alma mater, Minnesota hired her successor, Dawn Plitzuweit, who led South Dakota to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2022.

The university and Plitzuweit have agreed to a six-year contract, pending approval by the Board of Regents and completion of a background check. The West Bend, Wis., native will be introduced at a press conference scheduled for Monday afternoon.

“I am extremely excited,” Plitzuweit said in a statement.

Plitzuweit became West Virginia’s head coach this season and led the Mountaineers to 19 wins and an NCAA Tournament berth. Her team lost an NCAA first-round game to Arizona on Friday, 75-62.

He was the head coach at Grand Valley State (2002-07), Northern Kentucky (2012-16), South Dakota (2016-22) and for one season at West Virginia (19-12). Plitzuweit was also Michigan’s associate head coach from 2007-12 and served as an assistant at Wisconsin (1997-98).

“This is a homecoming of sorts, and Minnesota is a program I’m very familiar with from my previous time in the surrounding area and in the Big Ten,” she said in a statement. “I can’t wait to get back to the area and meet the team, the alumni and the fans. I also look forward to reconnecting with local high school and club coaches. I can’t wait to get to work.”

“I am excited to welcome Dawn, her husband Jay and their family to Minnesota,” said Coyle. “Dawn is a process-driven coach and has coached winning teams at every step of his career. She recruited Minnesota and consistently produced teams that contend for championships. Dawn has Big Ten coaching experience and knows how competitive and strong the conference is. I know she is excited to be back in the area and building her program.”

Whalen’s decision to step down after five seasons remains a bit of a mystery.
Hours after the decision was announced, following a first-round loss in the Big Ten Conference Tournament, athletic director Mark Coyle told reporters that the decision was a mutual agreement between Whalen and himself.

But Whalen, a former Gophers All-American who helped lead Minnesota to its first Final Four and later won four WNBA titles with the Lynx, has yet to address the decision except to say on Twitter that she missed the initial press conference for that it has been exceeded. with emotion.

Coyle told reporters that he and Whalen had had “very open and honest conversations” for about a year and that on March 2 it was decided that “now is the right time.”

That evening, Whalen posted on her Twitter account that she would be appearing at a press conference “in the near future.”

Whalen was hired right out of the WNBA to coach at her alma mater in 2018 before her final playing season ended. During her tenure, the Gophers were 71-76 overall, 32-58 in the Big Ten. Her last team finished the season 11-19 overall, 4-15 in the Big Ten after losing to Penn State in the first round of the conference tournament at the Target Center on Wednesday.

In the wake of Whalen’s exit, three of her prized freshmen — Mara Braun, Mallory Heyer and Niamaya Holloway — have said they will stay at Minnesota. On Thursday, sophomore center Rose Micheaux announced on her Instagram account that she is entering the NCAA transfer portal.

Whalen earned a base salary of $547,000 with raises of $575,000 and $600,000 due over the next two years. After announcing Whalen’s decision, Coyle said he will remain with the department to help with fundraising and efforts to build the school’s national, image and likeness opportunities — NCAA-approved ways for student-athletes to earn money from sponsorships, advertisements and appearances.

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