Top 6 Best Women's College Basketball Coaches of All Time

best womens college basketball coaches

Women’s collegiate basketball has had some of the greatest coaches ever to be a part of the sport. Some of these coaches have even recorded countless wins, conference titles, and National Championships. In addition, these coaches have had a huge impact on how the game has been played over their decades of leadership. Listed below are the best coaches in the history of women’s collegiate basketball.

Who Are the Best Women’s College Basketball Coaches of All Time?

  1. Pat Summitt
  2. Geno Auriemma
  3. Tara VanDerveer
  4. Vivian Stringer
  5. Jody Conradt
  6. Muffet McGraw

1. Pat Summitt

  • Held a 1,098-208 record over a 38 season coaching career
  • While Summitt was the head coach, Tennessee made 31 consecutive appearances in the NCAA tournament
  • Helped Tennessee win 8 national championships (1987, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2007, and 2008)
  • Named the Naismith Coach of the Century in 2000

Pat Summitt is considered the best women’s college basketball coach of all time due to her commitment and countless successful teams. As a coach at the University of Tennessee- Knoxville, Summitt won 1,098 games in a 38-season span.

In total, Summitt helped lead different teams to eight national titles while also capturing seven Coach of the Year awards. Summitt also led the USA Women’s Basketball team to victory in the 1984 Olympics. Besides basketball, Summitt also led the Pat Summitt Foundation, which aims to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, Summitt passed away from this disease in 2016 at the age of 64.

2. Geno Auriemma

  • Has led the UConn Huskies to 11 National Championships and 6 undefeated seasons
  • Helped guide his team to a 111 game winning streak between 2014 and 2017
  • Became the first coach in college women’s basketball to lead teams to five consecutive appearances in the Final Four on different occasions
  • Current streak of 13 consecutive Final Four appearances

Geno Auriemma is the head coach of the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team, which is one of the most successful basketball programs in the history of the sport. Auriemma was born in Italy and immigrated to the United States with his family when he was seven years old.

In 1985, Auriemma became the head coach of the UConn Huskies and has maintained that role ever since. During his tenure, Auriemma has led his teams to 11 National Championships and six undefeated seasons. Auriemma is most known for UConn’s win streak of 111 games between 2014 and 2017.

3. Tara VanDerveer

  • VanDerveer has the most cumulative wins in college women’s basketball history
  • While under VanDerveer’s guidance, the Stanford Cardinals have won three National Championship titles (1990, 1992, and 2021)
  • VandDerveer’s teams have won at least 20 games each season for the past 20 seasons

Tara VanDerveer has been the head coach of the Stanford University women’s basketball team since 1985. VanDerveer grew up in Melrose, Massachusetts, and started her coaching career at the University of Idaho in 1978. VanDerveer has accumulated the most wins out of any women’s college basketball coach.

To this point, VanDerveer has coached two teams to National Championship victories. In addition, she has earned two Coach of the Year awards. VanDerveer coached the USA women’s basketball team to victory at the 1996 Olympics. In 2002, she was enshrined in the women’s basketball hall of fame.

4. Vivian Stringer

  • Stringer is the first college basketball coach to make an appearance in the Final Four with three different programs
  • The NCAA record holder with 37 seasons with 20 wins or more in each season
  • Led 10 straight teams to the NCAA tournament between 2003 and 2012

Vivian Stringer is a women’s college basketball coach known for her tenure with the University of Iowa and Rutgers University. Stringer grew up in Edenborn, Pennsylvania, and attended Slippery Rock State College.

She currently has the fifth-most wins in women’s college basketball history. She has been named the national coach of the year three times. Stringer was the first women’s basketball coach to be a part of two different runs to the NCAA Final Four. She retired from Rutgers following the 2021-2022 season.

5. Jody Conradt

  • Led the University of Texas-Austin women’s basketball team to 900 wins as a head coach
  • Acted as the women’s basketball head coach and athletic director for the University of Texas-Austin between 1992 and 2001
  • Coached a team to an undefeated season and a National Championship in 1986 

Jody Conradt was most known for her long coaching career with the University of Texas-Austin Longhorns. Conradt grew up in a town called Goldthwaite, which was near Austin, Texas. After playing basketball in college, Conradt began coaching and eventually made her way to the head coaching job at the University of Texas-Austin.

Between 1984 and 1996, Conradt earned five Southeastern Conference coach of the year awards. In total, Conradt led her teams to 900 wins. She also became the first NCAA coach to have a team go undefeated during the season and then go on to win the National Championship in 1986.

6. Muffet McGraw

  • Coached the University of Notre Dame women’s basketball program to two National Championship titles in 2001 and 2018
  • Inducted into the Naismith basketball hall of fame in 2017
  • One of five NCAA Division I basketball coaches to have more than 930 wins

Muffet McGraw is a former women's college basketball coach who spent her entire career at the University of Notre Dame. During her 33-season tenure with Notre Dame, McGraw earned a record of 848-252. McGraw led several teams to a total of nine Final Four appearances.

In addition, McGraw coached two National Championship teams in 2001 and 2018. She became the sixth coach to win multiple National Championships. McGraw was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017. There are only five coaches in NCAA Division I basketball to have more than 930 wins, which includes McGraw during her time at Notre Dame.

Honorable Mentions

Sylvia Hatchell

  • Fifth-most career wins of all time (1,023)
  • NCAA National Championship (1994)
  • Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductee (2004)

Sylvia Hatchell is a retired women’s basketball coach that spent the majority of her career with the University of North Carolina. Throughout her 33-year career with the Tar Heels, she won the ACC Tournament eight times, National Coach of the Year twice, and the NCAA National Championship in 1994.

Outside of her successful career at the collegiate level, she also was a part of the US Women’s National Basketball Team coaching staff that won the gold medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.

Theresa Grentz

  • Four-time Atlantic-10 Tournament Winner
  • AIAW National Championship Winner in 1982
  • Bronze medal coaching the 1992 USA Women’s Basketball Team
  • Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductee (2001)

Theresa Grentz is a retired women’s college basketball coach who spent 43 years coaching at the Division I level. During her career, she coached for St. Joseph’s University, Rutgers University, the University of Illinois, and Lafayette College. Grentz was known for her ability to turn struggling teams into powerhouses within their conferences. She was a key part of Rutgers’ transition from the AIAW to the NCAA. Rutgers went on to win multiple league regular-season titles and tournaments.

After Rutgers, she went to the University of Illinois and was able to lead them to multiple playoff appearances and a Big-10 Conference Championship. While she never won an NCAA National Championship, she certainly left her mark on women’s college basketball as a whole.

Kim Mulkey

  • Four-time NCAA Championship winner
  • Three-time AP College Basketball Coach of the Year
  • 12-time Big 12 Tournament champion

Kim Mulkey has won four NCAA Championships as a head coach, three with Baylor, and her most recent with LSU. Before coaching, Mulkey played point guard for Louisiana Tech, winning two national championships. After graduation, worked as assistant coach for Louisiana Tech for 11 years, before moving up to head coach in 1996. During her coaching at the school, Louisiana Tech went 430-68 and made it to seven Final Fours, winning the championship in 1988.

After moving to an ailing Baylor in 2000, Mulkey led the Bears to three NCAA Championships, in 2005, 2012, and 2019. She continued her success as a coach after moving to Louisiana State in 2021. Only two years later, Mulkey coached the Tigers to the 2023 National Championship, her fourth as a head coach.


Which women’s college basketball coach has the most wins?

Tara VanDerveer is the women’s college basketball coach with the most wins of all time. VanDerveer has coached the Stanford University women’s basketball team since 1985. Throughout her career, VanDerveer has been a part of 1,186 wins as of 2023. A majority of those wins have come from her time with Stanford University. VanDerveer still coaches the women’s basketball team at Stanford University, so her total wins will only increase.

Which women’s college basketball coach has won the most NCAA Championships?

Geno Auriemma is the women’s college basketball coach with the most NCAA Championship titles. Auriemma is currently the head coach of the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team. With this program, Auriemma has earned an unprecedented 11 National Championship titles, including numerous undefeated seasons. All of Auriemma’s National Championship titles came with the UConn Huskies. Pat Summitt has the second most NCAA Championship titles with eight. 

Who is the best women’s basketball coach ever?

Pat Summitt is considered the best women’s basketball coach ever due to her on-court coaching accomplishments and overall character through adversity. Summitt coached at the University of Tennessee- Knoxville for 38 seasons. During this tenure, the program made 31 appearances in the NCAA tournament and came away with eight National Championship titles in 1987, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2007, and 2008. In 2000, Summitt was named the Naismith Coach of the Century.