Tina Thompson accepts head coaching job at Virginia

Justin Martinez

After three seasons as a Texas assistant coach, Tina Thompson has been named the head coach of the Virginia women’s basketball team.

Tuesday’s announcement ends the Cavaliers’ 27-day search for a new head coach after Joanne Boyle stepped down from the position on March 20 due to a family matter. Thompson will now take over a program that boasts three NCAA Final Four appearances in its 44-year history.

“I am extremely excited about the opportunity to become the next women’s basketball coach at the University of Virginia,” Thompson said in a statement. “I am grateful for the opportunity to lead a program with such a rich history. This program is in an exciting place with a hardworking group of young ladies. It is my intention to continue the winning ways coach Joanne Boyle has built with this impressionable group.”

The hiring marks the next chapter for a person who has succeeded on every level. After being selected No. 1 overall by the Houston Comets in the 1997 inaugural WNBA Draft, the USC alumna led the Comets to four straight WNBA championships in her first four seasons.

Thompson won on a global stage as well, claiming gold in both the 2004 Olympics in Athens and the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. After a 17-year career of shattering records and hanging up banners, Thompson retired in 2014 as the league’s all-time leading scorer with 7,488 points.

Those accomplishments were recognized on March 31 when Thompson was announced as an inductee into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

“I am thrilled to have Tina Thompson as our new women’s basketball coach,” Virginia athletic director Carla Williams said. “She is one of the best to ever play the game, and she has experienced tremendous success at all levels of the game.”

After being hired as an assistant coach at Texas on May 18, 2015, Thompson used her experience to help develop players such as Imani McGee-Stafford and Ariel Atkins, both of whom later became top-10 picks in the WNBA draft.

“She has a strong commitment to and passion for developing confident, successful women,” Williams said. “As a coach, she has proven to be a tremendous teacher and recruiter. I’m excited for the future of our program.”

Thompson has been open about her desire to eventually become a head coach over the past few seasons. Now the WNBA legend will get that shot, and she credits Texas head coach Karen Aston for helping launch her coaching career.

“I am forever grateful for the opportunity Karen Aston and the University of Texas provided me,” Thompson said. “My experience there has helped to prepare me for this moment. I want to thank Carla Williams for this coveted opportunity.”