Terri Williams-Flournoy, who resuscitated the Georgetown women’s basketball program in her eight seasons as the Hoyas’ coach, was named the head coach at Auburn on Monday.
Williams-Flournoy directed the Hoyas to the NCAA tournament in each of the last three seasons, including Georgetown’s second appearance in the Sweet 16 in 2010-11 when it nearly upset seven-time national champion Connecticut.
Before Williams-Flournoy arrived, Georgetown had been to only one NCAA tournament and twice won 20 games in a season. The Hoyas won at least 20 games each of the last four seasons, and they have been in the top 25 rankings regularly over the last three seasons.
This season, Georgetown was ranked wire-to-wire and finished 23-9 after losing to Georgia Tech, 76-64, in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Williams-Flournoy compiled a 143-104 record with the Hoyas.
“I’m very grateful to Georgetown,” Williams-Flournoy said on Monday afternoon when reached by telephone. “I think we did accomplish a lot. If you look at the first three years when I started and even in that fourth year, it took a lot to get the program turned around. It’s almost like watching your child grow.”
The search for a replacement for Williams-Flournoy will begin immediately, Georgetown Athletic Director Lee Reed said in a statement released by the school, and it’s unclear if Williams-Flournoy’s assistants will remain on staff.
Williams-Flournoy said she has not begun building her staff at Auburn, although that is high on her to-do list as soon as she makes the transition to a position that opened up when Nell Fortner resigned after eight seasons.
Auburn, which has made three trips to the Final Four but none since 1990, has not reached the NCAA tournament since 2009. The Tigers finished 13-17 this season, losing 13 of their final 18 games.
“We are thrilled to welcome Terri Williams-Flournoy into the Auburn family,” Tigers Athletic Director Jay Jacobs said in statement. “Coach Williams-Flournoy has achieved success at every level of her basketball career as a player, assistant and head coach. She has an understanding of what it takes to be successful in the Southeastern Conference and brings a tremendous desire to win championships at Auburn.”
Williams-Flournoy, who signed a five-year contract extension with Georgetown in June 2010, has ties to the Southeastern Conference from her six seasons as an assistant at Georgia. Williams-Flournoy, who played at Penn State, then was an assistant at Southwest Missouri State before taking her first head coaching job with the Hoyas.
“Finding a new leader for our program is the top priority,” Reed said. “We are looking for someone who will embrace the high standards of academic and competitive excellence that defines Georgetown athletics and Georgetown University.”
Speculation as to whom that might be varies, although Georgetown assistant Keith Brown and Virginia assistant Cory McNeill, who has ties to the Hoyas, have been mentioned.
Brown has been an assistant for five seasons, serving as director of recruiting. McNeill was an assistant to Williams-Flournoy for four seasons, serving as defensive coordinator, before departing for Charlottesville to join first-year coach Joanne Boyle’s staff.
Notre Dame assistant Jonathan Tsipis has emerged as the leading candidate to take over the vacant George Washington head coaching position, according to people familiar with the coaching search.
Tsipis is in his ninth season with the Fighting Irish, who are playing in Tuesday night’s NCAA championship game against Baylor. He also has been Notre Dame’s associate head coach the past four seasons.