IUP’s McConnell announces retirement

IUP head women’s basketball coach Tom McConnell has retired from his position. The change at the top of the program is effective in August. 

“Recently I have been praying and thoughtfully considering my future, and with great clarity and peace I have decided that it is time for me to retire from coaching,” said McConnell. “This was a tremendously difficult decision because I am walking away from the best and most rewarding job that I have ever had. During my time at IUP I was so very blessed to work with a great group of coaches, administrators, and staff members, not to mention coach a truly wonderful group of student-athletes. As I look back on my nine years here, there is no doubt that I have been truly blessed.”

“As my thoughts look to the future, I am looking forward to being with my wife, Lisa, and cannot wait to see what God has planned for us.”

“I want to express my gratitude to Tom McConnell for everything he has done for the women’s basketball program during his extremely successful tenure,” said IUP Athletic Director Todd Garzarelli. “Tom’s legacy at IUP is not about wins and losses, but the family culture and supportive structure that he worked to build within the program that will undoubtedly last for years to come. Tom has been a consummate professional, dedicated program builder, and a faithful community leader. Not only did he positively contribute to the lives of his players and staff members, but he touched so many people outside of his program and in the Indiana community. 

“We wish nothing but the best for Tom and his wife, Lisa, and excited for them to be able to spend more time with their family.”

“Coach McConnell is not only one of the best coaches IUP has ever had, but more importantly, one of the best people IUP has ever seen,” IUP President Dr. Michael Driscoll said. “I am very pleased and thankful that he has been part of the IUP family, and he leaves a great legacy.

“His knowledge and leadership of our women’s basketball program is exemplary, and his support for our student-athletes has been extraordinary. He has been an incredible leader and mentor, both on and off the court, and is very respected in the community for his service to youth.

“He will be missed, and we wish him all the best as he begins the next chapter of his life.”

McConnell leaves IUP as the most successful head coach in program history and one of the best leaders in Division II women’s basketball. During his eight coaching seasons on the IUP bench, McConnell put together an overall record of 197-50, with four Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Western Division regular season titles (2015, 2018, 2019, 2020), two PSAC tournament championships (2017, 2019), and led the Crimson Hawks to back-to-back Atlantic Region crowns and NCAA Elite Eight national semifinal berths (2018, 2019). 

His 197 victories, .798 overall win percentage, four division titles, and two regional championships are all program records. McConnell owns five of the top 10 seasons in IUP history according to win totals – including two 30-win seasons – and has five of the six longest win streaks in program history, highlighted by a record 19 straight victories during the 2019-20 season.

A perennial threat in the PSAC and Atlantic Region, McConnell led the Crimson Hawks to seven straight 20-win seasons and seven consecutive NCAA tournament selections – also program records. 

He turned the Crimson Hawks into one of the top threats in Division II during a recent three-year run. Between the 2017-18 and 2019-20 seasons, IUP’s 88 wins were tied for the third-most in the country in addition to their back-to-back regional crowns and two straight Division II national semifinal games. McConnell and the Hawks’ chance for a third straight regional crown and possible Division II title were wiped out prior to the 2020 NCAA tournament by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Under McConnell, IUP was ranked in the top-25 for 61 of the last 69 weeks dating back to the 2017-18 season, including a run of 50 straight appearances. The Hawks spent 43 weeks inside the top-10 and 25 weeks ranked in the top-3 of Division II. In January 2019, the Crimson Hawks rose to No. 1 in the WBCA Division II poll for the first time in the program’s history. 

McConnell was named the PSAC West Coach of the Year three straight times (2018, 2019, 2020), a conference record. His players have combined for two All-American selections and 21 combined All-PSAC West honors. 

McConnell was a head coach at the collegiate level for 15 years, spending seven seasons on the bench for the Division I Saint Francis (Pa.) men’s program from 1992-99. He won 85 games for the Red Flash, including a 17-10 record during the 1997-98 season. All told, McConnell has 282 collegiate victories. 


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