NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Vanderbilt University announced former Connecticut All-American and current assistant coach Shea Ralph will become the school’s sixth head coach.
Ralph is a seven-time national champion as a student-athlete and coach. She comes to Vanderbilt after spending 14 seasons as an assistant coach at UConn. As an All-American guard and later as an assistant coach under Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma at Connecticut, she was part of 13 Final Four appearances.
“It is with great honor and a full heart that I join Vanderbilt University as the next women’s basketball head coach,” Ralph said in a news release. “I have always been motivated and inspired by people who have a passionate pursuit of excellence. Vanderbilt’s rich, storied tradition of excellence speaks for itself, but I believe what sets us apart is the people. I am so excited to work alongside our amazing community in elevating our women’s basketball program back to an elite level. Together we will invest in each other and build a greatness that transcends the game of basketball.”
Ralph, 43, will be introduced to the Vanderbilt community at a press conference on Wednesday at 1 p.m.
Ralph is an experienced coach with a demonstrated history of success in women’s basketball. As a national high school player of the year in Raleigh, NC, she gained immediate acclaim in a Connecticut program that was emerging as a perennial powerhouse. Although she dealt with numerous knee injuries during her time at Connecticut, she was a first-team All-American and the Honda Award winner as national player of the year while leading Connecticut to a national championship in 2000.
“Coach Ralph has earned the opportunity to take the reins of our women’s basketball program and transform it into what we all know is possible,” said Candice Lee, Vanderbilt vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and athletic director. “She knows what winning looks like, and she has the background and experience – as both a player and a coach – to develop our student-athletes into champions.”
After beginning her coaching career as an assistant at the University of Pittsburgh, she returned to Connecticut and joined Auriemma’s coach staff in 2008.
“The hiring of Coach Ralph ushers in a new era for Vanderbilt women’s basketball,” Vanderbilt Chancellor Daniel Diermeier said in a news release. “Coach Ralph brings a wealth of experience from her time as both a student-athlete and coach at one of the nation’s most storied programs. Her energy, optimism and bold ambitions perfectly align with our vision of an athletics program that emboldens our mission to compete and succeed at the highest levels.”