MINNEAPOLIS — Mark Coyle announced Thursday that Lindsay Whalen, one of the most decorated players in women’s basketball history, will return to the University of Minnesota as the new head women’s basketball coach at her alma mater.
“People talk about the `it’ factor, and that is always difficult to define, but everyone who has ever spent time around Lindsay Whalen knows she has it,” said Coyle. “She has excelled at everything she has ever done in her life because she’s unflappable, determined and has a legendary work ethic. She’s played for some of the top coaches in the world, she’s competed at the highest levels the sport has to offer, and I know she will be a great head coach for our women’s basketball program.”
“I have so many special memories at the University of Minnesota. I can’t tell you how excited I am to have the opportunity to make more,” said Whalen. “Becoming the head coach here at the U and being a Gopher again is a dream come true. At every level, basketball has given me so much. I’ve learned from so many great players, coaches and mentors, and now I have a chance to share that knowledge and help shape the new generation of Gopher stars. I’m ready to get started.”
As part of Whalen’s agreement to become head coach, which is pending approval from the University’s Board of Regents, she will continue to play for the Minnesota Lynx. Previously, Whalen announced in February that she was retiring from international competition. She had played for the U.S. National team since 2002, joining Team USA following her sophomore season with the Gophers.
Whalen returns to those same Gophers after destroying the program’s record book in the early 2000s, finishing her career as Minnesota’s all-time points leader, along with being second all-time in assists and third all-time in steals. A four-time all-state selection at Hutchinson High School, about an hour west of Minneapolis, Whalen went on to become the catalyst for the most successful seasons in the history of Gopher women’s basketball.
She was the first three-time All-American in program history, a three-time All-Big Ten selection and a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree. After a Sweet Sixteen appearance her junior season (2002-03), Whalen led the Gophers to their only Final Four in program history in 2004. Her jersey, No. 13, hangs in the rafters of Williams Arena.
Whalen went on to collect numerous honors and championships in the WNBA and with the U.S. National team. After playing five seasons with the Connecticut Sun, Whalen returned to her home state with the Minnesota Lynx and has since won four WNBA championships (2011, 2013, 2015, 2017). Whalen has been named All-WNBA five times and is currently third in WNBA history in assists, to go along with being in the top-20 in career points and steals. Last year, she became the winningest player in WNBA history, having now been a part of more than 300 wins in the league. She also played professionally in Turkey, Russia and the Czech Republic.
In international competition, Whalen was a key piece to dominant performances by Team USA in world championship and Olympic competition. Whalen played for two gold medal teams at the World Championships (2010, 2014) and has also won two Olympic gold medals (2012, 2016).