Nancy Fahey Announces Retirement

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Achieving many accolades in her legendary 36-year career, Illini women’s basketball head coach Nancy Fahey is calling it a career.

On Friday morning, the school made the announcement that Fahey had officially retired, only a day after her Illini lost at the hands of No. 6 seeded Nebraska in the second round of the Big Ten tournament, 92-74, thus ending their season.

Just the day before, Illinois entered the tournament as the No. 14 seed (last in the Big Ten), but they extended their stay in Indianapolis with a surprise upset over No. 11 Wisconsin, 75-66.

Courtesy of @IlliniWBB Twitter

The Illinois women’s team had a very lackluster year, ending the regular season with a record of 6-19 and 1-13 in the Big Ten. The tournament win against Wisconsin matched the second win against Wisconsin on the season, both of which were the Illini’s sole Big Ten wins on the season.

Fahey finishes her stint at Illinois with a record of 42-99 over a 5-year span. This record includes a shocking 9-82 record in the Big Ten regular season and tournament games.

Fahey’s historic legacy will undoubtedly be in part to her tenure as the head coach at Division III school Washington (St. Louis). Starting her head coaching career there in 1986, she led the team to a combined record of 737-133 over a span of 31 years, winning 5 national championships and 23 conference championships.

Courtesy of @IlliniWBB Twitter

Her efforts at Washington resulted in the NCAA inducting her into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in the Class of 2012. She was (and still is) the only Division III women’s head coach to ever be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

After very disappointing Illini coaching tenures between Jolette Law (’07-’12) and Matt Bolant (’12-’17) resulted in a combined record of 130-192, Illinois was hoping to get back on track with Hall of Famer Fahey. Unfortunately, she never found her footing with the team.

“I want to thank all the coaches and staff members I’ve worked with for the past 40 years, from Johnsburg High School and Washington University to the University of Illinois,” Fahey said upon retirement. “A special thanks to all my players who will always have a special place in my heart. I wish Illinois women’s basketball the very best in the future. I’m ready for the next chapter in my life.”

Fahey’s retirement brings up the problem of finding a new head coach, who will be the Illini’s 10th women’s basketball coach since its inception in 1974. The Illini’s last winning record in a season was in 2012-13, going 19-14 and reaching the NIT. Their last NCAA Tournament appearance was in 2003.


Cover photo courtesy of Fighting Illini Athletics