Jim Foster Announces Retirement at Chattanooga

Family is many things to many people. Over four decades and four institutions, Jim Foster‘s family spreads far and wide across the globe.

However, it is the family near to his heart that pulls him away from 40 years of basketball.

“Both of my sons expressed interest in hanging out with me more often,” Chattanooga’s women’s basketball head coach Jim Foster said as he announced his retirement from the sport. “Donna’s moved three or four times for me. It’s time to do something for her.”

Foster’s career began in his home town of Philadelphia with a phone call from Athletics Director Don DiJulia at St. Joseph’s. With that he moved from the high school coaching ranks to the collegiate arena.

After 13 seasons at St. Joe’s, the family moved on to Vanderbilt for 11 seasons and another 11 at Ohio State. His last move was to the Scenic City for the final five years of a prolific career.

“Donna and I have always had a fondness for Chattanooga,” Foster said. “I was more than excited for the opportunity and the challenge that it presented. I have a lot of respect for Wes [Moore]. I knew the success the program had and liked the challenge of maintaining that.”

His five seasons at Chattanooga pushed the program to greater heights with 10 wins over Power Five Conference schools including four just this past season. The Mocs entered the Top 25 polls for the first time since 1984. Attendance increased by nearly 1,000 fans per game with the addition of UConn, Notre Dame and Stanford to the home schedules along with Tennessee, Indiana and Florida.

“I want to take this opportunity to congratulate Coach Foster on a remarkable career that has included 40 years of amazing accomplishments,” stated UTC Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Mark Wharton. “We are grateful for his commitment to excellence during his five years at UTC and the impact he had on our University. We are all going to miss Jim and Donna, but we are excited for them as they enter the next phase in their lives.”

In his first two seasons at UTC, the Mocs went undefeated in league play (32-0) and continued a Southern Conference home court win streak that stretched into his final season at 53 consecutive games.

Foster posted more than 200 victories at three different schools, one of only two coaches to accomplish the feat, and added 120 more at Chattanooga. He became just the eighth coach in NCAA women’s basketball history at any level to reach the 900 win plateau and ranks seventh all-time with 903.

The Mocs won four consecutive Southern Conference regular season and tournament titles with Foster and advanced to the postseason every year. With his first trip to the NCAA with Chattanooga he became the only coach in NCAA history to take four different teams to the NCAA Division I Tournament.

He was named the SoCon Coach of the Year in 2014-15 and earned Tennessee Sports Writers Association Coach of the Year in each of his first two seasons. In his fourth year, Foster led Chattanooga to its fifth consecutive SoCon Tournament title, the first school in league history to accomplish the feat.

In his five years on the bench, the Mocs have had one SoCon Athlete of the Year, one SoCon Player of the Year, Four Defensive Players of the Year, 16 All-Conference performers, four All-Freshman team selections, four SoCon Tournament MVPs and 15 All-SoCon Tournament picks.

The Mocs earned a Top 25 ranking in both the AP Top 25 and the USA Today Coaches Top 25 in the 2014-15 season following wins over No. 4 Tennessee and No. 7 Stanford at the Roundhouse. UTC climbed as high as 17 in the AP Top 25 and 18 in the Coaches Poll.

In his first season, the Mocs went 29-4 and were 18-0 in SoCon play. UTC posted three commanding victories to take home the SoCon tournament title. That was followed with another 29-4 season in his second year on the bench. UTC was 14-0 in league play and had to take ETSU to overtime to claim his second straight SoCon Tournament crown.

Over the next two years, the Mocs tied Mercer for the regular season title and the two teams met in the league tournament final for a pair of thrilling Mocs’ victories. After the top-seeded Bears managed to take a one-point lead in the 2016 final, UTC closed out the game with a 12-3 run for an eight-point victory. In 2017, the No. 1 seeded Mocs mounted a fourth quarter comeback to claim their 18th SoCon Tournament title with a two-point victory.

This season, Foster claimed his 900th career victory with a 58-41 win on the road at Western Carolina. He became the eighth coach in NCAA women’s basketball history at all levels to earn 900 wins and is seventh on the list with an overall record of 903-347.

He increased the level of competition at the Roundhouse bringing in nationally-ranked teams such as UConn the year following the Huskies’ third straight National Championship. He also brought in Notre Dame, Tennessee, Stanford, Louisville, Indiana and Florida as well as mid-major dynamos Florida Gulf Coast and Green Bay.

Attendance increased in his five season by nearly 1,000 fans per game. In the 2016-17 season, the Mocs averaged nearly 3,000 fans and ranked 36th in the nation ahead of Indiana, Georgia and North Carolina State. Last year, the Mocs ranked 39th among all NCAA Division I teams with an average attendance of 3,027.

Prior to Chattanooga, Foster spent 11 seasons at Ohio State where the Buckeyes qualified for a school record 10 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances with three trips to the Sweet 16 and six Big Ten regular season titles. OSU ranked in the National Top 10 in five of his last eight seasons and was a four-time Big Ten Coach of the Year.

In Foster’s 11 seasons at Vanderbilt, 10 of his teams finished the season ranked in the Top 25. In 1993 he guided the Commodores to the NCAA Final Four. Vanderbilt reached the Elite Eight four times and advanced to the Sweet 16 three times. He was twice named the TSWA Coach of the Year while in Nashville and was selected the 1993 United State Basketball Writers Association Coach of the Year. He was the interim Athletics Director for just over eight months in the 1995-96 season.

Foster got his start in women’s basketball at St. Joseph’s in his hometown of Philadelphia where he coached both women’s basketball and softball. During this time the NCAA began hosting women’s championships and Foster took the Eagles to the NCAA Tournament in six consecutive seasons and advanced to the Second Round four times.

Foster is one of just two coaches to record 200 or more victories at three different schools and is the only coach in NCAA history to take four different teams to the NCAA Division I Tournament. He is the only coach in the NCAA to have all four ranked in the AP Top 25 Poll as well the AP Top 25 Preseason Poll.

His coaching expanded into the international arena. He led the 2003 Young Women’s National Team and the 1997 World University Games team to the Gold Medal as head coach. He was an assistant coach for the 1992 Olympic Bronze Medal winning team and assistant coach for the 1990 World Championship
Team and the 1987 Olympic Festival Teams who each won gold. He served as head coach for the 1993 and 1991 Junior National Teams and was assistant coach for the 1989 World Junior Championships team.

In 1992, Foster became the first and only male to be elected president of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and served as the chair of the selection committee for the U19 National Team. From 1989-92, Foster was on the USA Basketball Games Committee, selecting players and staff for various teams including the 1990 World Championship Team and the 1992 Olympic Team. He also served on the USA Basketball Player Selection Committee from 1993-96. He was selected to join the NCAA Women’s Basketball Rules Committee in September 2003 for a four-year stint.

Katie Burrows (Chattanooga, 2004) will serve as the interim head coach while a nation-wide search is conducted for Foster’s replacement. Burrows (Galloway) played for the Mocs from 2001-04 and was a member of the 2004 NCAA Tournament team that beat Rutgers in the first round. She was an integral member of the team that won four consecutive Southern Conference tournament titles.

She began her coaching career at the high school level and just completed her eighth season on the bench for the Mocs. She coached three seasons under former Mocs’ head coach Wes Moore and has been with Foster for all five years.

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