Whenever we talk about the greatest college basketball coaches of all-time, we almost always forget to mention all of the great women’s college basketball coaches. Doing that just isn’t right because of all of the amazing coaches the women’s game has had over the years. In fact, you could make the argument that women’s basketball coaches are some of the best coaches, period. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the greatest women’s college basketball coaches of all time.
Stringer has only been to four Final Fours in her career, but she’s taken three different schools to the promised land. Her methods have worked everywhere she’s coached, starting at Cheyney before moving onto Iowa and settling in the long-term at Rutgers. Stringer has won over 1,000 games and counting and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.
McGraw has one of the great names in the history of coaching, but she’s also one of the great coaches in college basketball history. For many years, McGraw and Notre Dame lived in Connecticut’s shadow, but always found a way to remain a national powerhouse. Late in her career, McGraw took the Irish to the ACC and immediately won six straight regular-season and tournament titles, making four Final Fours during that time and winning the 2018 national championship before retiring in 2020.
Building a winning program at Stanford isn’t easy in any sport, but that’s exactly what VanDerveer has done for over 30 years. She had a few good years at Ohio State early in her career but has turned Stanford into a powerhouse for three decades. VanDerveer led the Cardinal to national titles in 1990 and 1992 and later led them to 30-plus wins in seven straight seasons from 2008 to 2014. The consistency VanDerveer has showcased while winning over 1,000 games is nothing short of phenomenal.
Few college basketball coaches have racked up the wins like Auriemma, and outside of John Wooden, nobody has won championships like him. He took over as the head coach at UConn in 1985 and has turned the Huskies into a dynasty. As of 2020, Auriemma has taken UConn to 20 Final Fours and won 11 national championships, including a three-peat from 2002 to 2004 and a four-peat from 2013 to 2016. UConn basketball was nothing before Auriemma got there, and now it’s the gold standard in the women’s game and one of the great dynasties in American sports.
No one in the women’s game will ever do it better than the late Pat Summit. She was tough, fiery, passionate, and knew how to get the best out of her players. Few coaches in any sport have been able to motivate their players better than Summit. She spent her entire coaching career at Tennessee, leading the Lady Volunteers to 18 Final Fours and eight national championships, winning titles in three different decades. Sadly, illness cut her career and her life short or she would have won a lot more than 1,098 games.