Colorado extends Payne through 2027-28

Colorado Athletic Director Rick George announced the contract extension of women’s basketball coach JR Payne on Thursday. 

The five-year extension comes fresh off the Buffaloes’ first Sweet 16 appearance in 21 seasons and will keep Payne under contract through the 2027-28 season. 

JR Payne has done an outstanding job with our basketball program,” George said. “I have a lot of confidence in her ability to lead and create an outstanding culture in her program and I’m excited that we have extended her contract. After reaching the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season and making a run to the Sweet 16, I felt that this was the right time to make this change to her contract. I look forward to the program continuing its upward trajectory moving forward.” 

Payne concluded her seventh season in Boulder with a 25-9 record, marking the most wins for the Buffs since the 2012-13 season. She has gone 59-29 (.670) over the last three seasons, including three consecutive postseason appearances (2021 WNIT, 2022 NCAA, 2023 NCAA). Payne has coached the Buffs to a 119-93 (.561) record since taking the helm in the 2016-17 season. 

“I’m so thankful to Rick George and our administration for their support and belief in our staff,” Payne expressed. “We have poured our heart and soul into building this program into something special and we’re so thankful for the opportunity to continue to push ourselves to national prominence. We love Colorado and know that we will continue to do everything we can to make all of Buff Nation proud! We’re ready to keep doing big things in Boulder!”

The Buffs’ success this season reached new heights under Payne and her staff. Colorado hit the 25-win mark for the second time in the last 27 seasons and the eighth time in school history. This season’s win total tied for the most since reaching 26 wins in 1995-96. Payne guided the Buffs to back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons. 

CU exceeded outside expectations in conference play this season. The Buffs were projected to finish eighth in the league, but Payne’s squad blew the preseason expectations out of the water. CU went 13-5, earning CU’s highest tournament seeding (No. 3) since joining the conference. 

The Buffs picked up their highest AP ranking since the 2016-17 season when the team appeared at No. 20 in the Feb. 27 poll. CU spent eight weeks in the AP top 25, marking the most weeks included in the poll since appearing 11 times throughout the 2013-14 season. 

Payne’s efforts did not go unnoticed this season, as she was listed as one of 15 candidates for the 2023 Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year. 

Colorado defeated four teams in the AP top 15 this season. Previously, CU had four combined wins against top-15 opponents from 2016-17 to 2021-22. CU’s four ranked wins this season marked the most since its six wins in the 2001-02 season. The win over No. 13 Duke was Colorado’s first AP-ranked road win since the 2007-08 campaign. 

Payne, CU’s eighth coach in program history, is second only to Ceal Barry (427) on CU’s all-time wins list. Payne secured her 100th win at CU with a 75-37 win over Western Michigan early this season. She also became the second longest-tenured women’s basketball coach, trailing only Barry’s 22 seasons.

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