Arizona parts ways with head coach Niya Butts
Arizona head coach Niya Butts and the women’s basketball staff will not return to the program after the completion of the 2015-16 season announced director of athletics Greg Byrne on Tuesday. A national search for the next coach will begin immediately. The Wildcats (12-18, 3-15 Pac-12) finished the regular season 11th in the conference standings.
Butts will coach the team during the upcoming Pac-12 tournament beginning Thursday in Seattle. The No. 11 seed Wildcats face No. 6 seed Oregon in the first round at 2 p.m. PT.
“I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed having Niya and her staff as part of our athletics department,” Byrne said. “They brought such a positive energy to McKale and were positive role models for the young women that came through our program. Unfortunately, the results on the court weren’t where we needed them to be. We wish Niya and her staff nothing but the best moving forward and thank them for all they’ve done for the University of Arizona.”
A former Tennessee student-athlete under legendary coach Pat Summitt, Butts joined Arizona prior to the 2008-09 season after serving five seasons as an assistant coach at Kentucky. She was in the last year of a contract extension granted after the 2010-11 season, her best. That season the Wildcats went 21-12 and 10-8 in the Pac-12 and qualified for the WNIT, which marked Arizona’s first postseason appearance since 2005. The eighth head coach in program history, Butts won her 100th career game earlier this season against Colorado and enters this week’s Pac-12 Tournament with 101 career victories at Arizona. She is 34-110 in Pac-12 play.
“I want to thank Jim Livengood and Rocky LaRose for giving me this opportunity, and Greg Byrne for being so supportive throughout my time at Arizona,” said Butts in a statement. “I’ve loved every second of my time in Tucson, from the student-athletes I was fortunate to coach, to the people in McKale, to the fans and supporters of Arizona Athletics. Even though we didn’t win as much as we all would have liked, I’m leaving the department with nothing but good memories and strong relationships that I will cherish forever. This is a special place with special people and I want nothing but the best for Greg and the entire athletics department.”