BREAKING: UConn assistant Shea Ralph hired as Vanderbilt head women’s basketball coach

Ralph has spent the last 13 seasons as an assistant coach with the Huskies.

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Shea Ralph is hired as Vanderbilt head women’s basketball coach on April 13, 2021. (Twitter/@VandyWBB)

Betsy Goodfriend, Deputy Sports Editor

Vanderbilt women’s basketball has found its next head coach: UConn assistant Shea Ralph.

Ralph, a graduate of UConn, has been an assistant coach for the Huskies for the past 13 years. She focused on coaching guards as well as player development and recruitment according to her UConn biography. With her help, the Huskies made 12 Final Fours and won six national championships.

Before being hired at UConn, Ralph spent five years on the coaching staff at Pitt. She turned the program around, leading the Panthers to their first NCAA Regional round in school history.

Ralph became a coach after playing career ended due to multiple ACL tears in college. She was drafted by the Utah Starzz in the third round of the 2001 WNBA Draft, but due to her knee injuries, she never played professionally.

Her college career was decorated. She came to UConn as the National High School Player of the Year, and she was named the Big East Rookie of the Year as a freshman. She averaged 16.7 points a game as a sophomore, the highest mark of her career. As a junior, she led UConn to a national title and earned awards including the Sports Illustrated Women Player of the Year and Big East Player of the Year. Her senior year ended prematurely with an ACL tear in the Big East Tournament. 

In the press release, athletic director Candice Storey Lee expressed her excitement for Ralph’s hire.

“Coach Ralph has earned the opportunity to take the reins of our women’s basketball program and transform it into what we all know is possible,” Lee said. “She knows what winning looks like, and she has the background and experience—as both a player and a coach—to develop our student-athletes into champions.”

UConn head coach Geno Auriemma, who Ralph played for and coached under, also gave a statement about her hire.

“I would like to congratulate Shea on being named the head coach at Vanderbilt University,” Auriemma said. “I know everyone here at UConn is incredibly excited for Shea. It’s an amazing opportunity to be at such a great university in a great city. Shea has had a huge impact on the UConn women’s basketball program, as both a player and a coach. We’re going to miss her tremendously – she brought passion and energy to everything she did in Storrs. But we know she’s going to do amazing things at Vanderbilt and we wish her the best.”

Multiple reports say that Ralph will move to Nashville with her husband Tom Garrick, who could join her staff as an assistant. Garrick was most recently the head coach of UMass Lowell’s women’s basketball program. He was an assistant with the Vanderbilt women’s basketball team from 2009-2015.