Lindsay Whalen steps down as Gophers women’s basketball coach

(ABC 6 News) – The University of Minnesota women’s basketball team is now in need of a new head coach.

Thursday, a day after the team was eliminated from the Big Ten Tournament, the program announced that head coach Lindsay Whalen is stepping down from her role. She’ll remain with the program as a special assistant to the athletics director through April 12, 2025 — when her contract was set to expire — the university says.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Lindsay,” U of M Director of Athletics Mark Coyle . “I want to thank Lindsay for her hard work and dedication as a player and as the head coach of our women’s basketball program. She is one of the greatest alums and ambassadors this University has ever produced and her legacy of being a Minnesota icon is etched in stone.”

“I want to thank Mark and the University for giving me the opportunity to lead this program five years ago,” Whalen said in a statement. “It was an honor of a lifetime. I am grateful to my assistant coaches and staff and want to thank them for everything they did for our student-athletes during the last five years. We did things the right way and created a lot of memories, but now is the right time for me to step aside and return to being a proud alum. I look forward to supporting and cheering on the next head coach.”

Whalen coached the Gophers from 2018-2023 and compiled an overall record of 71-76, including 32-58 in Big Ten play. The team lost to 13th-seeded Penn State 72-67 in the opening game of the Big Ten Tournament Wednesday afternoon at Target Center, putting the team’s record for the season at 11-19 (4-14 Big Ten).

In her first season at the helm, Whalen’s team went 21-11 (9-9 Big Ten) and made it to the second round of the WNIT. However, the promising start quickly started going downhill and was never quite able to recover, finishing 16-15 in the 2019-20 season, 8-13 in 2020-21, and 15-18 last season, all with sub-.500 records in Big Ten play.

Under Whalen, the program inked its highest-ranked recruiting class in history during the fall of 2021, but frequent transfers from the roster also subtracted key contributors, including Sara Scalia last spring.

Whalen played for Minnesota from 2000-04, was the program’s first three-time All-American in school history, and led the Gophers to their only Final Four in program history.

The university says it will conduct a national search for Whalen’s replacement, who will be the 13th head coach in program history.