Elaine Elliott will take a year's leave of absence while she considers retirement from coaching.
March 31, 2010
SALT LAKE CITY-- Utah Director of Athletics Dr. Chris Hill and women's basketball coach Elaine Elliott announced today at a press conference that Elliott will take a year's leave of absence while she considers retirement from coaching. Elliott has coached at Utah for 31 years--the last 27 as the head coach. Anthony Levrets, who just completed his third year as an assistant on the staff, will serve as the interim coach.
Elliott has compiled a 582-234 (.713) record at the U. and in her career, and is one of just 16 women's basketball coaches ever to produce 20 20-win seasons. Only six coaches have done so at one school and she is one of 11 active coaches, as of this season, to accomplish the feat.
The winningest coach in Mountain West Conference history, Elliott's teams have won seven MWC titles and a total of 14 league championships (including past affiliation with the High Country Athletic Conference and Western Athletic Conference). Utah has made 15 NCAA Tournament appearances under Elliott, advancing to the Elite Eight in 2006 and the Sweet Sixteen in both 2001 and 2006. She has led Utah to a winning record in 26 of her 27 seasons at the helm (her only losing season was in 1993-94) and has averaged 22 wins a year. Elliott has been named league coach of the year nine times, including four MWC honors (2000, '01, 03, '08), and was the WBCA Regional Coach of the Year five times. In 2001, she was recognized as the John and Nellie Wooden National Coach of the Year.
Elliott's 2009-10 team finished 23-12, with a first-round victory over St. Mary's in the Women's National Invitation Tournament. The current team has just three seniors and three starters will return next season, including MWC Freshman of the Year Taryn Wicijowski at center.
"I have had an amazing experience coaching some wonderful student-athletes here at Utah," said Elliott. "While the rewards have been plentiful in my 31 years here, I find myself wondering if I want to continue to coach. I initially told (athletics director) Chris Hill that I planned to retire after this season, but when he suggested a leave of absence, I realized it would give me the opportunity to step away for awhile and decide if that is what I really want."
Said Hill of his longtime coach, "It was not a good day when Elaine came to me and said she wanted to retire. Her long and successful tenure here were two reasons that led me to extend the offer of a year's leave of absence. Elaine has earned the right to take some time away and decide if retirement is really for her, or if she just needs a break and wants to come back and coach our team."