Blair-Lewis inks contract extension at George Mason

George Mason University Assistant Vice President & Director of Athletics Marvin Lewis today announced an agreement on a contract extension through the 2028-29 season with women’s head basketball coach Vanessa Blair-Lewis.

The extension comes after the Patriots’ rapid improvement under Blair-Lewis’ leadership during her first three seasons in Fairfax. The Green and Gold have seen victories in two of the last three the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournaments, finished fourth in the A-10 this year and earned a postseason bid to the WBIT this season.

“I want to thank President Gregory Washington, Assistant Vice President & Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Marvin Lewis and Senior Women Administrator & Deputy AD for Student Services and Performance Nena Rogers for their tremendous support of our program.” said head coach Blair-Lewis. “I am blessed to ‘get to coach’ these amazing women and work alongside the best staff in collegiate athletics.”

Blair-Lewis has seen major success with the women’s basketball team in her three seasons at the helm, as Mason finished 23-8 this season and 14-4 in Atlantic 10 play, the Patriots’ first 20-win season since 2017-18. In every season since arriving, Blair-Lewis has increased the Patriots’ win total, while the team set program records in regular-season wins and Atlantic 10 regular season wins with 23 and 14, respectively.

“We are excited to recognize the outstanding job Vanessa has done in elevating our women’s basketball program with this extension,” said Athletic Director Marvin Lewis. “She has positioned our program into being recognized as one of the top teams in the A-10, while taking the steps to lead the team to its’ first postseason appearance in six years. Her focus on providing a holistic student-athlete experience and her commitment to building a strong culture has been invaluable to our women’s basketball program. Off the court, she is a tremendous ambassador and representative of the university and Northern Virginia community. We are proud to have Vanessa continue to lead our program”

In her first season in Fairfax, Blair-Lewis led Mason to more than triple its win total from 2019-20, finishing 10-19. The Patriots also won three conference regular season games after not picking up a victory the season before her arrival while upsetting SEC member Florida at home. In the 2022 Atlantic 10 Women’s Basketball Tournament, the Patriots became the first 14-seed to win an opening round game, defeating 11-seed Saint Louis 65-50 in the opening round.

In 2022-23, the Patriots finished the year at 16-15 overall and 8-8 in conference play. It marked the first winning season since 2018-19 when the Patriots finished 16-14. After earning the No. 9-seed in the A-10 Tournament, Mason upset No. 8 La Salle in the Second Round en route to a Quarterfinal appearance. That season, the Patriots earned their first-ever road win over Fordham while Nalani Kaysia earned Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team honors.

Over the last two seasons, Blair-Lewis has brought Mason Nation some of its’ best basketball in recent years, amassing an incredible 23-5 record inside EagleBank Arena, dropping just one game in 2023-24. On top of its’ home court prowess in 2023-24, the Patriots opened the season in historic fashion at 7-0, picked up an ACC win over Pittsburgh and held La Salle to the fewest points by an A-10 opponent in program history.

“Thank you for recognizing the value in what we do and the young women we do it with! I’m excited to see our loyal fans, students, the George Mason University and Fairfax communities in ‘The Bank’ next season. We are believing big for another exciting year,” said Blair-Lewis. 

Additionally, Blair-Lewis coached three Patriots to postseason honors in 2023-24 as Sonia Smith earned A-10 Most Improved Player and First Team honors, Zahirah Walton earned Rookie of the Year, Third Team and All-Rookie honors and Kennedy Harris was named to the All-Rookie Team. The trio of players are the first to earn All-Conference postseason honors in the same year since George Mason joined the Atlantic 10. It is also the first time since 2001 that three separate players have picked up postseason honors in the same season, when all-time greats Jen Surlus, Jen Derevjenik and Tish Wescott were awarded All-CAA postseason awards.

Blair-Lewis’ incredible coaching this season culminated in being recognized as one of the top mid-major coaches in the country. Blair-Lewis was named a Kathy Delaney-Smith Mid-Major Coach of the Year finalist by Her Hoop Stats alongside Fairfield’s Carly Thibault-DuDonis, Gonzaga’s Lisa Fortier, Green Bay’s Kevin Borseth and UNLV’s Lindy La Rocque.

Tagged with: