RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia Commonwealth University Head Women's Basketball Coach Beth Cunningham has resigned her post to become an assistant at her alma mater and 2011-12 national runner-up Notre Dame. She will officially hold the title of associate coach with the Irish.
Cunningham, the Rams' all-time winningest coach with 167 career victories, steps down after 11 seasons at VCU, the final nine of which were spent as the program's head coach.
A national search for Cunningham's replacement begins immediately.
Cunningham has guided VCU to a school record five-straight postseason appearances, including the program's first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament with an at-large selection in 2009, as well as a pair of third round WNIT showings. Under her guidance, the Rams have averaged better than 22 wins per year since 2007 with three-straight 20-win campaigns from 2007-10. She also led VCU to back-to-back 26-win seasons (both school records) including an undefeated home ledger in 2008-09.
Under Cunningham's tutelage, eight players have gone on to play professionally, including a WNBA Draft selection in three of the previous five seasons. She has also coached three All-Americans, most recently senior forward Courtney Hurt, who earned her second consecutive Associated Press Honorable Mention All-America citation in late March. Hurt finished her four-year career as the program's all-time leader in scoring (2,092), rebounding (1,243), double-doubles (58), games played (131), field goals (770), free throws (503) and minutes played (3,694). Her career scoring, rebounding and double-double totals are also the most by any VCU men's or women's player in school history.
It took just over five seasons for Cunningham to top the school's wins chart as she picked up her record-setting 95th victory against Delaware on Jan. 19, 2009. She concludes her nine-year tenure with an overall mark of 167-115, the third-most victories among active Colonial Athletic Association coaches.
Since joining VCU as an assistant coach in 2001-02, Cunningham coached two CAA Players of the Year, two CAA Defensive Players of the Year, one CAA Rookie of the Year, three All-Americans, 22 All-CAA performers, 17 CAA All-Academic honorees, six CAA All-Defensive Team members and five CAA All-Rookie selections.
The Bloomington, Ind. native, who enjoyed a stellar four-year career at Notre Dame from 1993-97 under current Head Coach Muffet McGraw, was instrumental in the Irish's rise to their current status as one of the nation's elite teams. The all-time leading scorer in Notre Dame's women's basketball history, she compiled an astounding 2,322 career points and earned All-America honors twice during her career.
A four-year starter for the Irish and a member of three NCAA Tournament squads, Cunningham was named an AP and Kodak Honorable Mention All-American in 1995-96 after averaging more than 20 points per game during her junior season. The following year she led Notre Dame to a 31-win campaign and the program's first-ever NCAA Final Four appearance, highlighted by a 36-point performance in the Irish's "Sweet 16" victory over Alabama that still stands as an NCAA East Regional single-game record. She was rewarded following her senior season with a second consecutive appearance on the Kodak and AP All-America honorable mention teams.
Last month, Notre Dame became just the sixth women's program ever to make back-to-back NCAA national championship game appearances.