Hall of Famer Theresa Grentz Steps Down as Illinois Women's Basketball Coach

Illinois' All-Time Winningest Coach Leaves After 12 Seasons

April 17, 2007

CHAMPAIGN, ILL - Director of Athletics Ron Guenther announced today that Theresa Grentz has resigned as women's basketball coach to pursue other career opportunities.

"I thank Theresa Grentz for her outstanding contributions to our women's basketball program over the past 12 seasons," Guenther said. "She is responsible for putting Illinois on the national map for women's basketball and finishes her career as the school's all-time winningest coach. Theresa and I have had discussions over the last month and she has made a decision to look at other career options. Theresa has been an exceptional representative of the University in the community and throughout the nation, and a terrific leader among women. Her hiring in 1995 raised the bar for women's basketball in the Big Ten Conference."

The 2001 Women's Basketball Hall of Fame inductee and 1992 U.S. Olympic coach said she felt it was time for a change.

"I would like to express my gratitude to Ron Guenther for his direction, guidance and his friendship. It has been a marvelous working relationship," Grentz said. "I thank the University of Illinois, the Big Ten Conference, the outstanding fans in our community and the wonderful staff who have worked with me throughout the years. Karol Kahrs played a big part in my coming to Illinois, so I also thank her very much for the opportunity here. I especially want to thank each and every player who has played for me. Watching the players grow, succeed and move into the next phases of their lives has been the most meaningful part of my career. Each person touched my life in a special way and I'll forever be indebted. They have given me far more than I will ever be able to give to them.

"I know there is still something out there for me, whether it be as a collegiate or professional coach, a position in the academic world, working with women's issues, or, possibly even politics. I feel I can make a difference in some professional way. Coaching has provided me a very broad-based horizon, insight, perception and a dynamic way of looking at things. Winston Churchill once said `Change is the price of survival.'"

Grentz recently completed her 33rd season as a collegiate head coach, and 12th at Illinois, where her record stands at 671-311 (.683) overall and 210-156 (.574) with the Illini. The Fighting Illini advanced to postseason play in 10 of 12 seasons in Champaign-Urbana, and won the school's only Big Ten title in women's basketball in 1997. Grentz spent 19 years at Rutgers, where she compiled a record of 434-150 (.743), including nine consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances from 1986-94. She led Rutgers to the 1982 AIAW National Championship.

The 10th-winningest Div. I Coach in history was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001, and topped the 650 mark in career wins in 2006. She coached the U.S. Olympic Team to a Bronze Medal at the 1982 Barcelona Games. Grentz has won more honors than can possibly be mentioned. She earned back-to-back Big Ten Coach of the Year and WBCA District Coach of the Year honors in 1997 and 1998 after leading the Illini to the NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen each season.

Long considered a legend in women's basketball circles, Grentz was the center of attention for the Mighty Macs of Immaculata in the early 70s. At 5-11, she was a dominant force in the middle on the Immaculata teams that won a remarkable three AIAW National Championships from 1972-74. Grentz's coaching career began as soon as she graduated from college in 1974. She was hired as the part-time head coach at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia later that year. After guiding the Hawks to two winning seasons, including an 18-3 mark in 1976, Grentz was hired at Rutgers, becoming the first full-time women's basketball head coach in the nation.


Grentz became a national spokesperson for women's basketball in 1999 when she accepted a nomination to serve two years as the president of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association. This past season, Grentz won the WBCA's Carol Eckman Award, which exemplifies spirit, integrity and character through sportsmanship, honesty, ethical behavior, courage and commitment to the student-athlete. In her 12 seasons at Illinois, Grentz has made over 1,000 public appearances, staying actively involved in community activities, charity functions and youth clinics. She teamed with the men's team to form one of the most successful Coaches vs. Cancer initiatives in the nation.

Guenther indicated a national search would begin immediately, with the hope a new coach could be introduced in a minimum of three weeks.

Theresa Grentz's Coaching Record


2006-07   Illinois     19-12       --            • WNIT Second Round

2005-06   Illinois     16-15       --            • WNIT First Round

2004-05   Illinois     17-13       --            • WNIT First Round

2003-04   Illinois     10-18       --           

2002-03   Illinois     17-12       --            • NCAA First Round

2001-02   Illinois     15-14       --            • WNIT Second Round

2000-01   Illinois     17-16       --            • WNIT Second Round

1999-00   Illinois     23-11       --            • NCAA Second Round

1998-99   Illinois     19-12       --            • NCAA Second Round

1997-98   Illinois     20-10       14th         • NCAA Sweet 16    

1996-97   Illinois     24-8         13th         • Big Ten Champs/NCAA Sweet 16

1995-96   Illinois     13-15       --


1994-95   Rutgers     17-13       --                                                           

1993-94   Rutgers     22-8         --            • NCAA First Round

1992-93   Rutgers     22-9         --            • NCAA Second Round

1991-92   Rutgers     21-11       --            • NCAA Second Round

1990-91   Rutgers     23-7         20th         • NCAA First Round

1989-90   Rutgers     20-10       --            • NCAA First Round

1988-89   Rutgers     24-7         --            • NCAA Second Round

1987-88   Rutgers     27-5         8th           • NCAA Sweet 16

1986-87   Rutgers     30-3         5th           • NCAA Regional Finalist

1985-86   Rutgers     29-4         10th         • NCAA Regional Finalist

1984-85   Rutgers     19-9         --

1983-84   Rutgers     20-9         --

1982-83   Rutgers     19-10       --

1981-82   Rutgers     25-7         8th           • AIAW National Champions

1980-81   Rutgers     27-6         9th           • AIAW National Tournament

1979-80   Rutgers     28-5         8th           • AIAW National Tournament

1978-79   Rutgers     28-4         7th           • AIAW National Tournament

1977-78   Rutgers     16-12       --            • EAIAW Tournament

1976-77   Rutgers     17-11       --            • EAIAW Tournament


1975-76   St. Joseph's         18-3         --

1974-75   St. Joseph's         9-2           --           


Grentz's Overall Record     671-311 (.683)        33 seasons

at Illinois                               210-156 (.574)        12 seasons             

vs. the Big Ten                       101-91 (.526)          12 seasons (reg. season only)

at Rutgers                              434-150 (.743)        19 seasons

at St. Joseph's                       27-5 (.844)              2 seasons               


Grentz Honors and Awards


National/Regional Coach of the Year

1997-98   Kodak District IV Coach of the Year

1996-97   Kodak District IV Coach of the Year

1996-97   IBCA Coach of the Year

1992-93   Kodak District II Coach of the Year 

              Metropolitan Women's Basketball Association

1990-91   March of Dimes Coach of the Year

1987-88   Kodak District II Coach of the Year

1986-87   Converse National Coach of the Year

1985-86   Newark Star Ledger Coach of the Year


Big Ten Coach of the Year

1996-97, 1997-98


Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year

1986-87, 1987-88 (co-winner), 1992-93, 1993-94


Honors and Awards

              WBCA Carol Eckman Award, 2006-07

              Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, 2001

              Delaware County, Pa. Female Athlete of the Millenium

               WBCA President, 1999-2001

               Athena Woman of the Year, 1998

               Cardinal O'Hara High School Hall of Fame, inducted 1996

              Charter member of the Associated Press Women's Basketball Poll

              Member of the Olympic Games Committee

              Founding member of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)

               Honored as a Woman of Distinction by the Delaware-Raritan Girl Scout Council, 1993

              NIKE Hall of Fame, inducted 1991-92

              Inducted as a Loyal Daughter of Rutgers, 1990-91

              Named a Woman of Worth by Douglass College, 1990-91

              Douglass College and the N.J. State Federation of Women's Clubs - N.J

               Woman of Achievement Award, 1987-88

              Frequent keynote speaker for corporations including State Farm Insurance, Ameritech and National City Bank

Hall of Famer Theresa Grentz stepped down after 12 seasons as Illinois' Head Women's Coach