"I thank Theresa Grentz for her outstanding contributions to our women's basketball program over the past 12 seasons," Guenther said. "She is responsible for putting Illinois on the national map for women's basketball and finishes her career as the school's all-time winningest coach. Theresa and I have had discussions over the last month and she has made a decision to look at other career options. Theresa has been an exceptional representative of the University in the community and throughout the nation, and a terrific leader among women. Her hiring in 1995 raised the bar for women's basketball in the Big Ten Conference."
The 2001 Women's Basketball Hall of Fame inductee and 1992 U.S. Olympic coach said she felt it was time for a change.
"I would like to express my gratitude to Ron Guenther for his direction, guidance and his friendship. It has been a marvelous working relationship," Grentz said. "I thank the University of Illinois, the Big Ten Conference, the outstanding fans in our community and the wonderful staff who have worked with me throughout the years. Karol Kahrs played a big part in my coming to Illinois, so I also thank her very much for the opportunity here. I especially want to thank each and every player who has played for me. Watching the players grow, succeed and move into the next phases of their lives has been the most meaningful part of my career. Each person touched my life in a special way and I'll forever be indebted. They have given me far more than I will ever be able to give to them.
"I know there is still something out there for me, whether it be as a collegiate or professional coach, a position in the academic world, working with women's issues, or, possibly even politics. I feel I can make a difference in some professional way. Coaching has provided me a very broad-based horizon, insight, perception and a dynamic way of looking at things. Winston Churchill once said `Change is the price of survival.'"
Grentz recently completed her 33rd season as a collegiate head coach, and 12th at Illinois, where her record stands at 671-311 (.683) overall and 210-156 (.574) with the Illini. The Fighting Illini advanced to postseason play in 10 of 12 seasons in Champaign-Urbana, and won the school's only Big Ten title in women's basketball in 1997. Grentz spent 19 years at Rutgers, where she compiled a record of 434-150 (.743), including nine consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances from 1986-94. She led Rutgers to the 1982 AIAW National Championship.
The 10th-winningest Div. I Coach in history was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001, and topped the 650 mark in career wins in 2006. She coached the U.S. Olympic Team to a Bronze Medal at the 1982 Barcelona Games. Grentz has won more honors than can possibly be mentioned. She earned back-to-back Big Ten Coach of the Year and WBCA District Coach of the Year honors in 1997 and 1998 after leading the Illini to the NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen each season.
Long considered a legend in women's basketball circles, Grentz was the center of attention for the Mighty Macs of Immaculata in the early 70s. At 5-11, she was a dominant force in the middle on the Immaculata teams that won a remarkable three AIAW National Championships from 1972-74. Grentz's coaching career began as soon as she graduated from college in 1974. She was hired as the part-time head coach at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia later that year. After guiding the Hawks to two winning seasons, including an 18-3 mark in 1976, Grentz was hired at Rutgers, becoming the first full-time women's basketball head coach in the nation.
Grentz became a national spokesperson for women's basketball in 1999 when she accepted a nomination to serve two years as the president of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association. This past season, Grentz won the WBCA's Carol Eckman Award, which exemplifies spirit, integrity and character through sportsmanship, honesty, ethical behavior, courage and commitment to the student-athlete. In her 12 seasons at Illinois, Grentz has made over 1,000 public appearances, staying actively involved in community activities, charity functions and youth clinics. She teamed with the men's team to form one of the most successful Coaches vs. Cancer initiatives in the nation.
Guenther indicated a national search would begin immediately, with the hope a new coach could be introduced in a minimum of three weeks.
Story provided by the U of I press release