Vanderbilt hires Shea Ralph from UConn as new women's coach

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FILE - Connecticut assistant coach Shea Ralph reacts during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Temple in Philadelphia, in this Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, file photo. Vanderbilt has hired Shea Ralph away from UConn to help revive the Commodores' struggling women's basketball program. Athletic director Candice Lee announced the hiring Tuesday morning, April 13, 2021, a week after firing Stephanie White. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Vanderbilt has hired Shea Ralph away from UConn to help revive the Commodores' struggling women's basketball program, which hasn't reached the NCAA Tournament since 2014.

Athletic director Candice Lee announced the hiring Tuesday, a week after firing Stephanie White following five seasons. Ralph will be introduced at a news conference Wednesday.

“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,” Lee said. “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.”

Ralph has been an assistant with the Huskies since 2008, and she helped lead UConn to 13 consecutive Final Fours and six NCAA championships. She aided in recruiting and player development. She spent five seasons as an assistant coach at Pittsburgh, which won at least 22 games in each of her last three seasons.

She said she's always been motivated and inspired by people passionately pursuing excellence.

“Vanderbilt’s rich, storied tradition of excellence speaks for itself, but I believe what sets us apart is the people," Ralph said. "I am so excited to work alongside our amazing community in elevating our women’s basketball program back to an elite level.”

Ralph, who graduated from Connecticut in 2001, was captain of the Huskies' 2000 national championship team and was named MVP of that Final Four. She also was an All-American and the 2000 Big East Player of the Year.

A knee injury kept her from playing in the WNBA after she was drafted by the Utah Starzz in 2001.