The University of Minnesota and head women’s basketball coach Lindsay Whalen have agreed to a contract extension that will keep Whalen at her alma mater into 2024. The extension became official Friday after being approved at the Board of Regents meeting.
One of the most decorated players in women’s basketball history, Whalen returned to the University of Minnesota as the head women’s basketball coach on April 13, 2018. The team is 36-21 overall under her tenure.
In her first season at the helm of the Gophers, Whalen guided the team to a 21-11 record overall, a 9-9 mark in league play and a spot in the second round of the WNIT. She became the fifth coach in program history to lead the team to 20 wins in their first season, and of the 24 rookie head coaches in DI basketball during the 2018-19 season, no one had more wins or a better win percentage (.656) than Whalen. The Gophers also enjoyed a 10-week run in the AP Poll, their longest stretch since the 2005-06 season.
Minnesota began the 2018-19 season by winning its first 12 games, tied for the third best streak in team history. With the 12-0 start, Whalen tied her former coach, Pam Borton (2002-03), for the best undefeated start by a coach in their first year at a Big Ten school since the incorporation of women’s athletics in the conference in 1982-83. The only coach at a Big Ten school with more wins in his or her first year there was Ohio State’s Debbie Wilson, who started 14-0 in 1972-73.
Under Whalen’s tutelage, Kenisha Bell earned honorable mention All-America honors from the AP, was a semifinalist for the 2019 Naismith Women’s Defensive Player of the Year Award, garnered consensus First Team All-Big Ten honors from the league’s coaches and media and was a member of the All-Big Ten Defensive Team. In addition, Destiny Pitts was named First Team All-Big Ten by the league’s coaches (second team by the media), and Taiye Bello was an All-Big Ten honorable mention honoree.
Whalen returned to the Gophers after destroying the program’s record book in the early 2000s, finishing her career as Minnesota’s all-time points leader, along with being second all-time in assists and third all-time in steals. A four-time all-state selection at Hutchinson High School, about an hour west of Minneapolis, Whalen went on to become the catalyst for the most successful seasons in the history of Gopher women’s basketball.
She was the first three-time All-American in program history, a three-time All-Big Ten selection and a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree. After a Sweet Sixteen appearance her junior season (2002-03), Whalen led the Gophers to their only Final Four in program history in 2004. Her jersey, No. 13, hangs in the rafters of Williams Arena.
Whalen went on to collect numerous honors and championships in the WNBA and with the U.S. National team. After playing five seasons with the Connecticut Sun, Whalen returned to her home state with the Minnesota Lynx and won four WNBA championships (2011, 2013, 2015, 2017). Whalen was named All-WNBA five times and finished her career ranked third in WNBA history in assists, to go along with being in the top-20 in career points and steals. She retired as the winningest player in WNBA history, having been a part of more than 300 wins in the league. She also played professionally in Turkey, Russia and the Czech Republic.
In international competition, Whalen was a key piece to dominant performances by Team USA in world championship and Olympic competition. Whalen played for two gold medal teams at the World Championships (2010, 2014) and has also won two Olympic gold medals (2012, 2016).Big Ten Lindsay Whalen Minnesota