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Dawn Plitzuweit named Minnesota women’s basketball coach

Dawn Plitzuweit has been named the new coach of the Minnesota women’s basketball program, the school announced Saturday.

Her six-year deal is pending approval from the board of regents and a background check, the school said.

Plitzuweit replaces Minnesota basketball legend Lindsay Whalen, who stepped down as coach earlier this month after her fifth season at the helm. Whalen went 71-76, including 11-19 (4-14 Big Ten) in 2022-23. She failed to coach the Gophers into the NCAA tournament during her time in Minneapolis.

Plitzuweit has a proven track record at multiple programs, most recently West Virginia and South Dakota, with only one of her squads in 16 seasons as head coach not making the postseason. She boasts nine 20- and two 30-win seasons as well as a 356-141 career record (201-66 in league play).

“I am extremely excited,” Plitzuweit said in a statement. “It is a tremendous honor to be named head coach at Minnesota. … This is a homecoming of sorts, and Minnesota is a program that I am very familiar with from my previous time in the surrounding area and in the Big Ten. I am looking forward to getting back to the area and to meet the team, alumni and fans. I am also looking forward to reconnecting with local high school and club coaches. I can’t wait to get to work.”

Plitzuweit spent 2022-23 at West Virginia, where she became the first coach in program history to earn an NCAA tournament berth in an initial season. The Mountaineers fell to Arizona in the first round Friday.

From 2016 to 2022, Plitzuweit made South Dakota a postseason mainstay, most notably guiding the Coyotes to a Sweet 16 appearance in 2022 as a 10-seed. Her previous stops were at Northern Kentucky and Grand Valley State, and she won a Division II national championship at the latter in 2006.

Plitzuweit also coached in the Big Ten as an assistant at Michigan and Wisconsin, her home state. She is tasked with turning Minnesota into a Big Ten power as the conference welcomes UCLA and USC in the coming years.

The Gophers last appeared in the NCAA tournament in 2018, then coached by Marlene Stollings, but at their height advanced to the Final Four in 2004 behind Whalen’s outstanding run as a player.

According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, all four members of Whalen’s highly regarded freshman class — Mara Braun, Mallory Heyer, Nia Holloway and Amaya Battle — intend to remain at Minnesota despite Whalen’s departure.

“I am excited to welcome Dawn, her husband Jay and their family to Minnesota,” Minnesota athletic director Mark Coyle said. “Dawn is a process-driven coach and has coached winning teams at every step of her career. She has recruited Minnesota and has consistently produced teams that compete for championships. Dawn has Big Ten coaching experience and knows how competitive and strong the conference is. I know she is excited to get back to the area and build her program.”

West Virginia will now be looking for a women’s basketball coach for the second time in two years following the retirement of longtime coach Mike Carey after the 2021-22 season.

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