Longtime Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer retires after 38 seasons with the Cardinal

Tara VanDerveer is calling it a career.

The longtime Stanford head coach announced on Tuesday night that she is retiring. The Cardinal will promote assistant coach Kate Paye, who played for VanDerveer, to replace her next season. VanDerveer will remain with the Stanford athletic department in an advisory capacity.

VanDerveer spent 45 seasons coaching throughout college basketball, mostly at Stanford. She'll end her career with an NCAA record 1,216 wins.

"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 in a statement. "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."

Tara VanDerveer is the winningest head coach in both men's and women's Division-I basketball.
Tara VanDerveer is the winningest head coach in both men's and women's Division-I basketball. (John Todd/NCAA Photos via Getty Images) (John Todd via Getty Images)

VanDerveer got her start at Idaho in 1978. She spent two seasons there before landing at Ohio State in 1980, where she led the Buckeyes to three NCAA tournament appearances.

Stanford then hired VanDerveer in 1985, and she quickly turned the program into a basketball powerhouse. In her 38 seasons with the Cardinal, VanDerveer reached the NCAA tournament 35 times, made 14 Final Fours and won three NCAA championships โ€” first in 1990, and then again in 1992 and 2021.

VanDerveer finished with a 1,065-220 overall record at Stanford. The Cardinal went 30-6 this past season, though it was knocked out of the NCAA tournament in the Elite Eight.

"Tara's name is synonymous with the sport and women's basketball would not be what it is today without her pioneering work," Stanford athletic director Bernard Muir said in a statement. "She has been devoted to this campus for 40 years and a servant to all the student-athletes who have come through her program. Tara built one of the sport's iconic program's almost immediately upon her arrival at Stanford, and then maintained that standard for nearly four decades.

"An energetic and positive teacher, a Hall of Famer, a trusted friend and mentor, Tara's impact is simply unmatched, and I don't think it's a stretch to characterize her as one of the most influential people to ever be associated with this university. We will look forward to finding the appropriate ways to honor her deep impact and legacy here at Stanford."

VanDerveer will end her career as the winningest head coach in men's and women's Division-I college basketball. She passed longtime Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski's record last season, though UConn head coach Geno Auriemma is right behind her with 1,213 wins.

Paye, who has been on staff for 17 seasons, will be tasked with leading Stanford as it goes through several major changes. The Cardinal will enter the ACC next season, and will do so without star Cameron Brink after she declared for the WNBA Draft.

While the conference realignment will change so many things for Stanford women's basketball next season, VanDerveer said Wednesday that the move to the ACC had nothing to do with her retirement. At this point in her life, she said, she was simply ready to move on.

"I wanted to give myself time when the season was finished, but the time has felt right," VanDerveer said Wednesday, via the San Francisco Chronicle's Marissa Ingemi. "It has nothing to do with going to the ACC, that was a motivator to want to stay."

As for her replacement, though, VanDerveer has no doubts about Paye whatsoever. She's more than "paid her dues" to get to this point.

"Kate is gonna be awesome," she said. "No one will outwork Kate."

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