STANFORD, Calif. — Tara VanDerveer, the winningest basketball coach in NCAA history, announced her retirement Tuesday night after 38 seasons leading the Stanford women’s team and 45 years overall.

The 70-year-old VanDerveer surpassed Mike Krzyzewski for the wins record in January. The Hall of Famer departs with 1,216 victories at Idaho, Ohio State and Stanford.

“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.”

And as has been the plan for years, top Cardinal assistant Kate Paye is set to take over the program, and Stanford said in a statement that negotiations with Paye are underway. Paye played for VanDerveer from 1991-95 and has coached on her staff for 17 years.

Former Stanford player and retired Arizona State coach Charli Turner Thorne reached out to VanDerveer immediately Tuesday.

“She has done it all so just really happy for her to enjoy life after coaching!” Turner Thorne said in a text message to The Associated Press. “When you know you know.”

VanDerveer’s legacy will be long lasting. She always took time to mentor other coaches, swapping game film with some or going to the visiting locker room to offer encouraging words and insight.

“Tara’s influence is both deep and wide. I went to her very first camp at Stanford as a camper,” UCLA coach Cori Close said in a text to the AP. “I competed against her and worked her camps as a player. And I have now been competing against her and learning from her for many years as a coach. My coaching has been affected on so many levels by Tara’s example and direct mentorship at many crossroads. Congrats on an amazing career Tara. Our game, the Pac-12 Conference, and my coaching is better because of you. Enjoy retirement. You sure have earned it.”


VanDerveer’s last day is scheduled for May 8 — the 39th anniversary of her hiring. And she plans to continue working for the school and athletic department in an advisory role.

Her Stanford teams won NCAA titles in 1990, ’92 and 2021 and reached the Final Four 14 times.

VanDerveer took a year away from Stanford to guide the undefeated U.S. women’s Olympic team to a gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

“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,” she said. “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.”

For many in women’s basketball, the answer is a resounding yes.

“She’s a legend,” California coach and former Stanford player and assistant Charmin Smith texted the AP. “The game will miss her.”

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