The Fighting Illini women’s basketball team has a new head coach. Athletic director Josh Whitman announced the hiring of Nancy Fahey on Wednesday afternoon, ending a national search that took a mere one week to complete. The story was first reported by The News-Gazette.
Fahey spent 31 seasons coaching Washington University of St. Louis, where she compiled an outstanding five Division-III national championships and 29 NCAA Tournament appearances. Fahey possess an overall record of 737-133, and her 84.7% win rate is sixth-best among all active NCAA head coaches.
Fahey was named to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012, making her the first Division-III representative to receive such an honor.
Washington University’s 2016-17 season came to an end on March 11 in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals. The Bears went 26-3 in Fahey’s final campaign while claiming their 23rd University Athletic Association championship.
Fahey will replace Matt Bollant in Champaign. The former head coach was fired after a disappointing five seasons that feature off-court scandals, a 61-94 (22-62) record, and zero NCAA Tournament appearances.
Statement from Josh Whitman:
“It gives me great pride to welcome my friend and former colleague Nancy Fahey to the Fighting Illini family as the new head coach of our women’s basketball program. With a record highlighted by five national championships, 10 Final Fours, nearly 740 wins, and a winning percentage of almost 85%, Nancy’s Hall of Fame coaching career stands among the most accomplished in the history of women’s basketball. What is more compelling to me, however, is her ability to connect with the women on her team, to push them to be better than they ever thought possible, and to help them develop as players, students, and people. Nancy Fahey is a born leader, and she is the among the best basketball coaches I have ever seen. I could not be more excited for her to lead our Fighting Illini program to championship heights.”
Statement from Nancy Fahey:
“It is such an exciting time in Illinois athletics since Josh has taken the helm. Having worked with Josh, I know he believes in doing things with integrity and the right way; I believe in the same things. I want to be a part of helping his vision become a reality. The cornerstone for the success I have experienced in the past has always revolved around the players. Knowing them as people and understanding their dreams and goals both on and off the court are important to me. I truly believe the players who are here and those who have committed to Illinois for next year have the ability to propel us to great heights. They want to be that team that we talk about five years from now. I want to help make that happen for them and for Illinois. Ultimately, we want every little girl, when she is growing up, to dream about Illinois as a place they want to play their college basketball.”