Tina Thompson, who is the WNBA’s second-leading scorer of all time and later this year will be inducted to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, has been named Virginia women’s basketball coach, Cavaliers Athletic Director Carla Williams announced Monday afternoon.
Thompson comes to Virginia following three seasons as an assistant at Texas, where the two-time Olympic gold medalist and four-time WNBA champion rose to associate head coach this past season. It’s the first high-profile hire for Williams, a former basketball player at Georgia who’s in her first year as athletic director. Thompson replaces Joanne Boyle, who stepped away from coaching in March for family reasons.
“I am thrilled to have Tina Thompson as our new women’s basketball coach,” Williams said in a statement. “She is one of the best to ever play the game, and she has experienced tremendous success at all levels of the game. I am looking forward to working with her and supporting her vision for Virginia basketball.”
Thompson worked primarily with post players at Texas, which this past season reached the NCAA tournament’s round of 16. The Longhorns went 84-21 during Thompson’s time in Austin, advancing to the regional finals in 2016.
A three-time all-Pacific-10 selection at Southern Cal, Thompson became the No. 1 pick of the Houston Comets in the 1997 WNBA draft — the league’s first college draft. She won four titles with the Comets in 1997 through 2000 on the way to being named an eight-time all-league selection and nine-time all-star.
Thompson, who won gold medals with Team USA at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, became the WNBA’s career scoring leader Aug. 8, 2010, while playing for her hometown Los Angeles Sparks. She was passed at the top of the list by Diana Taurasi last year.
“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 a such a rich history. This program is in an exciting place with a hard-working group of young ladies. It is my intention to continue the winning ways coach Joanne Boyle has built with this impressive group.”
The Cavaliers went 19-14 this past season and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament in their first appearance since 2010.
Thompson becomes just the third women’s basketball coach at Virginia in more than 40 years, taking over the program former coach Debbie Ryan turned into a national power. Virginia reached the Final Four in three straight seasons beginning in 1990 with Dawn Staley at point guard. Staley is now the coach at South Carolina and led the Gamecocks to the national championship two seasons ago but indicated during this past NCAA tournament that she had no interest in the then-vacant position at her alma mater.
Thompson “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.”