After 12 years at Princeton, women’s basketball head coach Courtney Banghart is leaving to take the head coaching job at UNC, the schools announced Tuesday morning.
Banghart is the winningest coach in Princeton women’s basketball history, with a 254–103 record. She led a program which had never been to the NCAA tournament before her arrival to seven Ivy League titles and eight NCAA tournament appearances.
“This is a toughest decision I’ve ever had to make,“ Banghart said in a statement on GoPrincetonTigers.com. “ I love this place and the special people we were able to bring here. Princeton's a place that challenged me every day to be my best and held me to the highest standard. I was surrounded by Hall of Fame coaches and student-athletes that dared to be great in all facets of their life.”
Banghart’s departure from Princeton was originally reported by WRAL TV Monday night. She is expected to sign a five-year contract worth $3.45 million in total compensation before bonuses, which the UNC board of trustees approved Tuesday morning.
Banghart will replace Sylvia Hatchell, who after 33 years as UNC’s head coach resigned earlier this month after allegations surfaced that she demanded players play injured and made racially insensitive comments.
In 2014–15, Banghart led Princeton to an undefeated 30–0 regular season and was named the 2015 Naismith Coach of the Year. In 2015–16, Banghart’s Princeton team earned the only NCAA tournament at-large bid in Ivy League history, and she has led the Tigers to Ivy League regular season and Ivy League tournament titles in each of the past two seasons.
Banghart played college basketball at Dartmouth, where she graduated with a degree in neuroscience in 2000. She was an assistant coach at Dartmouth from 2004 to 2007 before taking over the Princeton program in 2007.
“Princeton's a place that captures your heart, and it's a place that welcomes you home,“ Banghart said later in the statement. “I look forward to the great things ahead for Princeton Basketball. I am forever indebted to you all."
According to the University, a nationwide search for Princeton’s next women’s basketball coach will commence immediately.
Whoever gets the job will be tasked with earning a third straight Ivy League championship. They’ll inherit a roster including junior forward Bella Alarie, two-time Ivy League Player of the Year, and sophomore guard Carlie Littlefield, a member of the 2018–19 All-Ivy first team.