Minnesota hires Plitzuweit from West Virginia to replace Whalen

Minnesota on Saturday hired West Virginia head coach Dawn Plitzuweit on a six-year deal and reached out to another leader with strong regional ties to try to improve the lagging program.

Plitzuweit, who replaces Lindsay Whalen, has 16 years of experience as a head coach with a career record of 356-141 across four schools. She spent just one season with the Mountaineers, who lost to No. 7 seed Arizona on Friday as the 10th seed in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Prior to that, Plitzuwide led South Dakota to the NCAA tournament in four of their six seasons. She was a three-time winner of the Summit League Coach of the Year award with the Coyotes, who reached the Sweet 16 in 2022.

Plitzuweit also spent four seasons in Northern Kentucky and five seasons at Grand Valley State, which won the 2006 NCAA Division II national championship. Between these positions she was an assistant in Michigan.

The 50-year-old native of West Bend, Wisconsin has also worked as an assistant at Michigan Tech, Wisconsin and Green Bay.

“This is a homecoming of sorts, and Minnesota is a program that I know very well from my earlier days in the surrounding area and in the Big Ten,” Plitzuweit said in a statement. “I look forward to returning to the area and meeting the team, alumni and fans. I also look forward to reconnecting with local high school and club coaches. I can’t wait to get to work.”

The university scheduled a press conference on Monday afternoon to introduce Plitzuweit. The terms of their contract were not immediately available. Whalen’s base salary this season was $547,000.

Whalen’s departure was described by Minnesota athletic director Mark Coyle as a joint decision, but it seemed like she wasn’t ready to go. She was scheduled to appear at a press conference with Coyle on March 2 when the change was announced, but later said she was too emotional to attend.

Whalen was hired five years ago with no previous coaching experience. But she’s a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and led her home state Gophers to her only Final Four appearance as a player in 2004, after which she played for the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA and for the U.S. national team in The Olympics .

Whalen went 71-76 with Minnesota, including a 32-58 record in Big Ten play and no NCAA tournament appearances. The Gophers made the NCAAs twice in four years under Whalen’s predecessor, Marlene Stollings, their only appearances in the last 14 seasons.

Whalen brought a highly regarded freshman class that season with four players from the state, including top scorer Mara Braun. The Gophers’ 11-19 season ended Wednesday with a first-round loss to Penn State in the Big Ten tournament. They finished 12th in the Big Ten with a 4-12 record, their fewest wins in 12 years.

Plitzufar will be the 13th head coach in the history of the Gophers program. Her teams have finished fifth or higher in all 16 seasons as a coach in regular-season conferences, including 11 top-three finishes.

“We have everything in place,” Coyle said in early March. “There is no reason why this is not possible here. That is the question we need to clarify.”

As a player, Plitzuweit was a two-time Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Year at Michigan Tech with four trips to the NCAA Division II tournament.

She and her husband Jay have a son, AJ, who plays for South Dakota and daughter Lexi, who plays for Grand Valley State.

Minnesota hires Plitzuweit from West Virginia to replace Whalen, who originally appeared on NBCSports.com


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