Goestenkors Retires From On-Court Coaching Career
LEXINGTON, Ky. – After an illustrious career with historic success collegiately, professionally and internationally, Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer Gail Goestenkors has announced her retirement from on-court coaching and thus resigning her assistant coach position at the University of Kentucky.
Goestenkors, who is expected to remain in the Kentucky WBB program with an off-court support position, will remain in her current role until a replacement can be hired. UK head coach Kyra Elzy will begin a national search to find a third full-time assistant coach immediately.
“Having Coach Goestenkors in our program for one year was instrumental in so many ways. Although her on-court involvement with our program has come to an end, we are elated that she will remain on our staff,” Elzy said. “Coach G will go down as one of the best coaches in our sport. She has impacted the women’s basketball community tremendously. I want to publicly thank her for her hard work and contributions to Kentucky women’s basketball. We will have significant shoes to fill and will start working on that right away.”
“Coaching has been the gift of a lifetime. It’s hard to believe I’ve been coaching for over 30 years. What a fulfilling journey it’s been,” Goestenkors said. “I have been blessed to work with so many amazing people. The friendships with colleagues and the relationships with players that I’ve forged throughout the years are the gifts I hold most dear. I would like to think Mitch Barnhart, Kyra Elzy and the entire WBB program for the opportunity to come to UK and assist in coaching, mentoring and building up the incredible young women who make up this program. It has been an honor and privilege to represent UK and become a part of Big Blue Nation. I cannot wait to spend more time with my friends and family in this new phase of my career.”
Goestenkors on-court coaching career comes to an end with an unprecedented list of accomplishments throughout the last four decades. The 2015 Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inductee succeeded at every stop during her illustrious career, including head coaching positions at Duke and Texas, WNBA assistant coach stops with the Los Angeles Sparks and Indiana Fever and numerous head and assistant coach roles with USA Basketball.
Most recently in one season at Kentucky, Goestenkors helped the Wildcats claim the 2022 SEC Tournament Championship, the school’s first since 1982. Along the way, she coached one of the game’s best talents, helping Rhyne Howard be the No. 1 overall 2022 WNBA Draft pick. Goestenkors helped the UK offense set numbers the program has not seen in several years. UK’s 2021-22 assist total was the 10th most in program history, while its field-goal percentage of .431 was its highest since 2015-16. UK also had 484 assists last season, which was its most in a single season since 2013-14.
Throughout her career, Goestenkors was a seven-time Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year, 2003 (Naismith and WBCA) and 2007 (Associated Press) National Coach of the Year, advanced to 20 NCAA Tournaments with four Final Fours, two NCAA runner-up finishes, and won four gold medals with USA Basketball, including golds as an assistant coach in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics.
Goestenkors came to Kentucky after one season as the associate head coach at Central Michigan in 2020-21, helping the Chippewas to 18-9 record, Mid-American Conference Tournament Championship and first-round appearance in the NCAA Tournament. CMU was one of the best offensive teams in the nation in 2020-21, ranking 18th nationally in field-goal percentage, 17th in free-throw percentage and 15th in scoring offense with 77.7 points per game. Central Michigan ranked sixth nationally in 3-pointers made with 270 and fifth in 3-pointers made per game with 10.0. Star guard Micaela Kelly had an incredible season with Goestenkors tutelage, ranking top-10 nationally in total points and points per game, while she joined teammates Molly Davis and Maddy Watters in 3-pointers made with each hitting over 65 treys.
Prior to her one season in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, Goestenkors was a national women’s basketball analyst for ESPN from 2014-18 and was co-owner of a coaching consulting company called Coaching Full Circle, working with collegiate coaches all over the country. She spent 2014 as an assistant coach with the LA Sparks and 2015 as an assistant coach with the Indiana Fever.
One of the most successful women’s basketball coaching tenures in NCAA history belongs to Goestenkors as she was the head coach at Duke from 1992-2007. During her tenure at Duke, the Blue Devils went to four Final Fours, two national championship games, had an ACC record 51-game winning streak against conference opponents, five straight ACC Championships, seven consecutive 30-win seasons, five straight ACC regular-season championships, seven straight top-five recruiting class and 13 20-plus win seasons.
Overall, Goestenkors held an incredible 396-99 (.800) overall record while the head coach at Duke, including a 179-55 (.765) mark in the ACC. She became the head coach of Texas in 2007, starting a five-year tenure with the Longhorns that included five NCAA Tournament bids and three 20-win seasons.
Goestenkors developed and coached some of the game’s best during her tenure, including Duke guard Alana Beard, who was a three-time All-American and unanimous national player of the year in 2004. Beard set the school record for scoring with 2,687 points and became the first NCAA basketball player to amass over 2,600 points with 500 assists and 400 steals.
Goestenkors’ players accumulated an impressive array of individual awards. Included in that total are eight national player of the year honors, five Kodak All-Americans, eight AP All-Americans, seven national freshman of the year award winners and five league player of the year winners. In addition, her players earned a combined 53 all-conference honors in the ACC and in the Big 12 and a combined 75 academic all-conference accolades in the two leagues. Eleven of Goestenkors’ former players went on to play in the WNBA.
Goestenkors’ accomplishments went behind the collegiate level as she had amazing success with USA Basketball. Six times she helped represent the United States in an international competition, including earning gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2004 Athens Olympics as an assistant coach. She was head coach internationally for USA Basketball four times, winning gold at the 2005 FIBA Under-19 Women’s Basketball World Cup, 2002 FIBA World Championship for Women, silver at the 1997 William Jones Cup and bronze at the 2006 FIBA World Championship for Women.
Prior to her Duke tenure, Goestenkors spent from 1986 to 1992 as an assistant coach under Lin Dunn at Purdue. During her time there, the Boilermakers posted a 135-42 record, five consecutive 20-win seasons and earned five NCAA Tournament appearances, including two Sweet 16 showings. Purdue claimed its first-ever Big Ten Championship in 1991 and were ranked third in the final AP Top 25.
Born in Waterford, Michigan, Goestenkors played collegiately at Saginaw Valley State from 1981-85 and was an NAIA All-American. She earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education from SVSU in 1985 and began her coaching career the next season as a graduate assistant at Iowa State.