San Francisco: Jennifer Azzi steps down as head coach, effective immediately
University of San Francisco head coach Jennifer Azzi, who led the Dons to their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1997 last season, resigned today effectively immediately. She spent six seasons heading USF.
“I have decided to step away from my role as women’s basketball head coach at the University of San Francisco,” Azzi said in a statement. “It has been my pleasure to serve in this role for the past six seasons. I feel that I have accomplished my goal of building a championship caliber program at USF. The program is in fantastic shape with high-level student-athletes from all over the world. I am leaving this program in great shape to be successful for many years to come. We have built the program on solid values of respect, love, gratitude and hard work.”
“I am looking forward to the next chapter in life as I pursue new career opportunities. We are also expecting the birth of our first child later this year and I am excited for the journey ahead off the court. I want to thank USF President Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J., Athletic Director Scott Sidwell, and the entire USF Athletic Department for this opportunity.”
The Dons faced Azzi’s college coach, Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer, in the first round of the NCAA tournament this past spring. It was milestone for USF after winning the West Coast Conference Championship.
No information has been released on Azzi’s successor or plans for an interim coach. The regular season for USF begins November 11 with a home contest against Sacramento State.
From USF’s release:
Since taking over the USF program beginning with the 2010-11 season, Azzi transformed the Dons’ program into a bona fide postseason contender. Last season, she guided USF to its first NCAA Championship appearance in 19 years as the Dons captured the West Coast Conference Tournament Championship as the sixth seed. USF finished the season with a 21-12 overall record, which marked the program’s highest win total since compiling a 25-6 record in 1996-97. In 2014-15, the Dons advanced to the finals of the WCC Championships and earned a spot in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament, the program’s first postseason appearance since the 2001-02 season.
In six seasons under Azzi’s guidance, the Dons showed improvement in the win column in five of her six seasons at the helm.
“We would like to thank Jennifer for her tireless efforts in taking our women’s basketball program to a championship level during her six years on the Hilltop,” said USF Director of Athletics Scott Sidwell. “In addition to being an outstanding coach, Jennifer is and has always been a first-class individual. While we are saddened to lose her, we respect her decision to step away from coaching to pursue other opportunities at this time.”
One of the most respected and accomplished figures in women’s basketball, Azzi led Stanford to a NCAA Championship in 1990 and also earned a gold medal as a member of the 1996 United States Olympic team. One of the founding members of the American Basketball League, Azzi was a three-time all-star with the San Jose Lasers from 1996-99. After the ABL folded in 1999, she was drafted by the Detroit Shock in the first round (fifth overall) in the inaugural WNBA draft. She enjoyed playing stints with the Shock (1999), Utah Starzz (2000-03) and San Antonio Silver Stars (2003).
She is a member of several halls of fame, including the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame (2009), the Anderson County Hall of Fame (2009), the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame (2007), the San Jose Sports Authority Hall of Fame (2006), the Knoxville Hall of Fame (1998), Stanford’s Hall of Fame (1995) and the Oak Ridge High School Hall of Fame. In January of 2016, she was presented with the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award, which honors an individual’s accomplishments on the court of play as well as their contributions to professional organizations and other civic activities.