Coach Nancy Wilson to Retire after 2011-12 Season

College of Charleston women’s basketball head coach Nancy Wilson has announced she will retire after the conclusion of the 2011-12 season.

The winningest women’s basketball coach in school history, Wilson rejoined the program in 2003 having previously coached the Cougars from 1976-1984 leading the team to national prominence with seven 20-win seasons and three AIAW Division II National Championship appearances from 1980-82. She was named South Carolina Coach of the Year on three occasions, while sharing National Coach of the Year honors in 1982.

Wilson will enter her 17th season with the Cougars and 30th overall this fall with a marquee home matchup scheduled against seven-time national champion Connecticut on Dec. 21 at Carolina First Arena. She claimed her 300th career coaching victory at CofC in a 56-50 home win over Furman this past season on Jan. 24, 2011. Wilson has compiled a 304-193 record (.612) at The College and is one of only 31 active Division I coaches to surpass the 500-win milestone with 535 career victories to date.

“I have been truly blessed to have the opportunity to coach at the College of Charleston, not once, but twice in my career,” Wilson said. “The relationships I have made over the years with players, staff, colleagues and fans have been very special to me. I will have been a head coach in the sport of basketball for 30 years, which is a rare opportunity. My staff and I look forward to this last year with a special team and we plan on leaving the program with a solid foundation to build on.”

Wilson guided the Cougars to their most successful season in Division I history, earning a school-record 23 wins as well as a program-best 14 league wins in 2008-09. She also became the 24th active Division I coach in NCAA history to reach 500 career victories in a 63-43 rout of Georgia Southern on Feb. 16, 2009. CofC won a school-record nine games in a row and made its first-ever appearance in the Southern Conference Tournament championship game.

Prior to her return to CofC, Wilson was the head coach at the University of South Carolina from 1984-1997, where she is still the all-time leader in coaching victories (231). After five NCAA Tournament appearances with the Gamecocks, including a trip to the Sweet 16, she served a stint as the associate head coach of the American Basketball League’s Seattle Reign.

“Nancy has enjoyed an outstanding career and I hope several of her former players and coaches get to celebrate with her during the season,” CofC Director of Athletics Joe Hull said. “She has been a wonderful, positive influence on many young women. During the 1970s and early 1980s, Nancy led CofC women’s basketball to extraordinary success. And over these past eight years, she has been able to celebrate significant milestones like her 500th career win and her 300th CofC win with her teams. She will retire as a winner, a teacher, a mentor and a leader. Congratulations to Coach Wilson.”

Wilson earned her bachelor’s degree in physical education from Coker College in 1973 and obtained her master’s degree in physical education from The Citadel in 1982. She began her coaching career as an assistant at CofC, while teaching elementary physical education at nearby Mt. Pleasant Academy. She coached basketball and volleyball at Charleston’s Garrett High School for one year from 1974-75, while also coaching volleyball at CofC.

A native of Lake City, S.C., Wilson was bestowed the Kay Yow Heart of a Coach Award by The Fellowship of Christian Athletes in 2010, which is named after the late North Carolina State great and presented annually to a coach who has exemplified biblical principles over the course of his or her career.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT COFC HEAD COACH NANCY WILSON

“Nancy has had a very long and successful career. She has given greatly to our great game. In a world, sometimes darkened by sporting news, Nancy has been a beacon of light. Many lives were changed through sport during her illustrious coaching career and she will be greatly missed.” – Nevada Head Coach Jane Albright

“I don’t know if there is anyone I respect more than Nancy Wilson, because of who she is. We have coached against each other for many years and have a great relationship. She is a great person and coach and cares deeply about her players and staff. She is the type of coach you would want your daughter to play for. She is a tremendous mentor, has such high integrity and will be missed.” – North Carolina Head Coach Sylvia Hatchell

“Coach Wilson has had a fulfilling career. She has been an inspiration as a teacher, coach and friend to so many of her student-athletes and coaching colleagues. Nancy’s involvement in the growth of the women’s game has been met with integrity, professionalism, and commitment to the sport, the players she’s coached, and the opponents she has faced. Nancy will be missed on the sideline, but her contribution to the game as a person and coach will be remembered by those of us fortunate to know her. Nancy, thank you for the positive example you’ve set and maintained throughout your coaching tenure. May the 2011-12 season be your best ever!” – Belmont Abbey College Head Coach and Former WNBA Assistant Coach Susan Yow

“Nancy has been a huge mentor for me in coaching and as a person. She has such high integrity and has influenced so many people in a positive way. She has made her mark on players and coaches and everyone she has touched will miss her very much.” – Western Carolina Head Coach Karen Middleton

“Nancy is a legend in the game of women’s basketball. She has influenced so many athletes and coaches. She is a positive role model and someone with high integrity.” – Miami (Ohio) Head Coach and Former South Carolina Assistant Coach Maria Fantanarosa

“She had a tremendous impact on me as a player. She taught me many life lessons far beyond the game of basketball. She has always been a great teacher and someone that has provided a model for the way things should be done.” – Western Carolina Assistant Coach and Former South Carolina Women’s Basketball Player Tréka McMillian

“The cornerstone of Coach Nancy Wilson’s career has been that of service to others through the game of basketball. She has coached winning teams and championship-caliber young women at South Carolina, the American Basketball League and at the College of Charleston. Calling Coach Wilson a teacher is the highest compliment I can pay to her legacy. She leaves the game better than when she started and for that, I am personally thankful and grateful to have crossed paths with and to have learned from her for many decades.” – ESPN Women’s College Basketball Analyst Debbie Antonelli