Mike Thibault retires, makes way for son Eric as Mystics head coach

Mike Thibault lamented the league's travel woes on Sunday, which have been called out by players like Natasha Cloud (9). (Photo by Chris Marion/NBAE via Getty Images)

Mike Thibault is retiring from coaching, the Washington Mystics announced Tuesday.

The longtime head coach of the Mystics will remain as the team’s general manager and lead in basketball operations.

In his place, Thibault’s son Eric has been named as head coach for the Mystics after spending the last 10 seasons as an assistant coach and the last four as associate head coach. In her third season as an assistant coach, LaToya Sanders will be elevated to associate head coach.

Maria Giovannetti will continue as the team’s assistant general manager and will take on the role of senior vice president of strategy and vision.

“When we first hired Mike 10 years ago, we assigned him a large task: to make the Washington Mystics relevant in the WNBA, and he more than delivered,” team owner Ted Leonsis said. “In the last decade, we won a championship and have been a perennial playoff team while appearing in back-to-back WNBA Finals.”

Thibault is the winningest coach in WNBA history, with a 379-289 record. First named head coach of the Mystics on Dec. 18, 2012, he led the franchise to its first WNBA title in 2019. The team has made eight playoff appearances in his tenure.

Before joining Washington, Thibault served as head coach for the Connecticut Sun. He also had stints as an assistant coach with the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers.

“We have had some of the best players in the world wear the Mystics uniform,” Leonsis said. “Mike was able to bring a once in a generation talent in Elena Delle Donne to our team. His talent evaluation and player development acumen are unmatched, from selecting Natasha Cloud and Emma Meesseman in the second round to adding Ariel Atkins and Shakira Austin to the Mystics roster.

“We are thrilled that he will continue to lend his expertise to our basketball operations as general manager and look forward to continued success for the Mystics.”

A three-time Coach of the Year, Thibault said that he is “proud” to have coached the team for 10 years. He also said son Eric is “ready and prepared” to lead the team.

“I will be forever grateful to Ted Leonsis, Sheila Johnson, and the Monumental ownership group for the support and resources they have given us to succeed, as well as the lifetime friendships that we have formed,” he said. “I have been blessed to have worked with so many great players here in D.C. and throughout my career, and I’m excited to still be around the wonderful core group we have returning this coming season.”