McCallie won’t return as Duke’s women’s basketball coach

Published 8:28 am Saturday, July 4, 2020

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By Aaron Beard, AP basketball writer

Joanne P. McCallie won’t return for a 14th season as Duke’s women’s basketball coach.

McCallie announced her departure in a 6-minute video posted Thursday on the program’s Twitter account. She said she was “choosing to step away” as coach, saying she wanted to bring “clarity” instead of uncertainty as she entered the final year of her contract.

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“I want to provide an opportunity for change, growth and a sense of security relative to the future of the program,” McCallie said, noting she hoped the move would allow the team “to play free without the burden and uncertainty of their coach’s future.”

McCallie led the Blue Devils to a 330-107 record in her 13 seasons and was a three-time Atlantic Coast Conference coach of the year. Duke won at least a share of the ACC regular-season title four times as well as three ACC Tournament titles. There were also 10 trips to the NCAA Tournament, including four straight trips to the Elite Eight from 2010-13.

“Here at Duke, Joanne’s extraordinary passion for excellence produced championship-level success and provided many timeless, captivating moments for both our student-athletes and fans,” athletic director Kevin White said in a statement. “To be sure, Joanne’s unwavering commitment to leadership and service has had an enormous impact on the development of countless young women over the past three decades.”

McCallie, 54, arrived at Duke in 2007 from Michigan State, where she led the Spartans to the 2005 NCAA title game and was named Associated Press national coach of the year. She inherited a program that had become among the nation’s elite, with seven straight 30-win seasons under Gail Goestenkors, who had left for Texas.

McCallie kept things rolling by winning at least 25 games through her first seven seasons and reaching 30 victories three times. But Duke never broke through to a Final Four, and things got tougher when national powers Notre Dame and Louisville joined the ACC in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

In 2016, Duke fell out of the AP Top 25 for the first time since 1999, then missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1994. After the season, Duke announced its human resources department was reviewing the program but didn’t specify why, though that came after one starter transferred midway through the season and two more players left afterward.

By May, the school announced it had completed the review and White said McCallie would remain coach.

Duke won 28 games and returned to the NCAA Tournament a year later, then reached the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2018, but it fell to 15-15 and missed the tournament again in 2019.

In McCallie’s final game, Duke (18-12) fell to Boston College in its ACC Tournament opener on March 6, less than a week before the coronavirus pandemic shut down sports.

McCallie won 646 games in her 28 seasons as a head coach, starting with eight years at Maine, followed by seven at Michigan State.