Bonnie Henrickson, who has spent the past 18 years as a successful head women’s basketball coach, the last 11 at the University of Kansas, has been hired in the same position at UC Santa Barbara, Director of Athletics John McCutcheon announced Wednesday.
Henrickson will take over a Gaucho program that has advanced to postseason play in 19 of the past 23 seasons, including 14 NCAA Tournament appearances. In her 18 years as a head coach, the Willmar, Minn. native guided teams to 14 postseason appearances, including seven NCAA Tournaments. Two of her Kansas teams and one of her Virginia Tech teams advanced to the Sweet 16. In all, Henrickson’s squads have amassed a total of 344 wins, averaging more than 19 per season.
“I am thrilled that Bonnie will be joining us as our next Head Women’s Basketball Coach,” McCutcheon said. “Her head coaching experience and established recruiting contacts in California will be key in moving our program forward. We are extremely fortunate to have a person with such a proven track record on and off the court of leadership and commitment to her student athletes such as Bonnie join the Gaucho family.”
“I am excited to be joining a prestigious academic university with such a strong history of success in women’s basketball,” Bonnie Henrickson said. “It’s clear that there is a passion for women’s basketball in this community, and that matters. This program has won 14 conference championships and went to the Sweet 16 in 2004, so when we talk about our vision and our dreams, we are not talking about something that hasn’t been done before. There is a blueprint and there is support here for that kind of success.”
Henrickson was at the helm at Kansas from 2004-15 and led the Jayhawks to the Sweet 16 in back-to-back seasons (2012, 2013). Kansas also earned berths to five Women’s National Invitation Tournaments (WNIT), reaching the championship game in 2009.
When she arrived in Lawrence, Kan., Henrickson took over a Jayhawks program that resided at the bottom of the Big 12 standings following four consecutive losing seasons. In just her second year, KU captured its first WNIT berth under Henrickson and posted its first winning season in six years with a 17-13 mark. Highlighting the Jayhawks’ resurgent year was a program record 12-game winning streak to open the season. In addition, the program snapped a 36-game losing streak against ranked opponents when it defeated No. 23 Texas.
Under Henrickson, the Jayhawks made it a habit to upset nationally-ranked opponents, as they defeated at least one in four consecutive seasons. Perhaps the most notable of those victories was when KU snapped Baylor’s 53-game conference winning streak in a 76-60 decision at Allen Fieldhouse during the 2013-14 season.
The pinnacle of Henrickson’s tenure at Kansas came in the three-year stretch from 2011-2013 when the Jayhawks reached the 20-win plateau each year and went to the Sweet 16 twice.
Henrickson elevated Kansas to the national rankings for the first time in a decade in 2009-10 when the Jayhawks spent nine-consecutive weeks in the Associated Press Poll to open the season, ascending as high as No. 18.
In 2008-09, Henrickson guided the Jayhawks to the WNIT Championship game after downing New Mexico in one of the toughest road environments in the NCAA. That season, Kansas finished 22-14, giving the program its most wins since the 1998-99 year.
Henrickson took the reins as a head coach at Virginia Tech in 1997 and coached at the Blaksburg, Va., school through 2004, leading the Hokies to 20 or more wins every season. Under her leadership, the program went 158-62 and made seven postseason appearances, reaching the NCAA Tournament five times and the WNIT twice.
She did not wait long to put her imprint on the VT program, as she led the Hokies to their biggest turnaround in school history. She coached her team to a 22-10 record, its first Atlantic 10 Conference title and an NCAA second-round appearance just one season after the Hokies finished last in the league with a 10-21 record.
After her second season at VA Tech, Henrickson was named Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year, guiding the team to a 28-3 overall record, a 15-1 mark in conference play and a spot in the Sweet 16. In addition, she was a finalist for national coach of the year honors.
On the heels of that season, she was selected as an assistant coach for Team USA, which earned a silver medal at the World University games in Spain during the summer of 1999. She again took her coaching talents to the international stage the following summer as the head coach of women’s USA Basketball for the R. William Jones Cup in Taiwan, where she led the team to a gold medal.
Through her career, Henrickson has coached four future WNBA players, 14 all-conference players, and three academic All-Americans. Beyond her success on the court, Henrickson also made strides in attracting fans to women’s basketball games at KU’s Allen Fieldhouse. A Big 12 single-game attendance record was set when 16,113 fans came to watch Kansas host South Florida in the 2009 WNIT Championship game. That same year, the Jayhawks ranked among the top-25 in attendance nationally and fourth in attendance increase from the previous season.
In 2005, Henrickson was named the Carol Eckman Award winner, which is given by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association to recognize a “coach who exemplifies spirit, integrity and character through sportsmanship, commitment to the student-athlete, honesty, ethical behavior, courage and dedication to purpose.”
Before her days as a head coach, Henrickson spent a combined nine seasons as an assistant coach at Virginia Tech (1988-95) and Iowa (1995-97). During her first stint with the Hokies, she served as Carol Alfao’s top assistant and recruiting coordinator, helping the team to three consecutive 20-win seasons (1993, 1994 and 1995). In 1994 and 1995, Virginia Tech made its first NCAA Tourney appearances with Henrickson serving as associate head coach.DI Head Coach Henrickson