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Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer becomes all-time winningest college basketball coach

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PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 21: Head coach Tara VanDerveer of the Stanford Cardinal celebrates with her players after Stanford defeated the Oregon State Beavers 65-56 at Stanford Maples Pavilion on January 21, 2024 in Palo Alto, California. Tara VanDerveer recorded her 1,203 NCAA career victory passing Mike Krzyzewski with 1,202 NCAA career wins. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer became the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history on Sunday.

The Cardinal defeated Oregon State 65-56, giving VanDerveer her 1,203rd career victory. She passed former Duke men’s coach Mike Krzyzewski.

“I’m very appreciative of all the great players I’ve coached and the great places I’ve been and the attention this brought to women’s basketball,” VanDerveer said. “I’m not always really comfortable in the limelight, but I understand that that kind of goes with the job.”

Following the game, Krzyzewski congratulated VanDerveer in a statement, after having held the record since 2019.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment for Tara VanDerveer, who is already one of the most accomplished coaches in the history of basketball. This is yet another milestone to add to an amazing legacy,” Krzyzewski said. “More important than all the astounding numbers and career accomplishments, she’s positively impacted countless lives as a coach and a mentor. Tara remains a true guardian of our sport.”

Whether or not VanDerveer holds on to the record will be determined by how long she stays coaching. UConn women’s head coach Geno Auriemma trails her by seven wins and is the third-winningest NCAA basketball coach. The deciding factor for who will finish on top could wing up being who simply stays in coaching the longest.

VanDerveer has been a head coach at the collegiate level since 1978. She began her head coaching career at Idaho before heading to Ohio State. She’s been head coach of Stanford since 1985, an astounding 38 seasons.

In that time, she’s won three NCAA tournament titles, including Stanford’s most recent in 2021. She’s coached the Cardinal to 13 Final Four appearances and 14 Pac-12 Conference tournament championships.

Already, VanDerveer has been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011. She also coached the 1996 Olympic women’s national team to a gold medal.

“I like to say that I’ve never felt that coaching basketball was a j-o-b, job,” she said. “I can’t wait to come into the gym. I love coming to practice, love coming to the games and it’s fun. I get to wear sneakers to practice and the games, and all of you, our fans, are so fantastic.”

Roughly 30 of her former players – including Jayne Appel, Jennifer Azzi, Ros Gold-Onwude and Chiney Ogwumike – were in attendance.

“I told our team, I said, ‘This is what feels like winning a national championship,'” VanDerveer said of the win in front of a home crowd. “You’re just so excited and you’re so happy. I would like to build on this and get better.”