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Tara VanDerveer is now the winningest coach in college basketball history

Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer smiles as players celebrate her 1,202nd victory as a college coach, against Oregon in an NCAA basketball game Friday, Jan. 19, 2024, in Stanford, Calif.
Tony Avelar
/
AP
Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer smiles as players celebrate her 1,202nd victory as a college coach, against Oregon in an NCAA basketball game Friday, Jan. 19, 2024, in Stanford, Calif.

Updated January 21, 2024 at 9:46 PM ET

Tara VanDerveer, Stanford's women's coach, has set an all-time record for most coaching wins in the history of college basketball — men's or women's.

VanDerveer got her 1,203rd victory on Sunday in a game Stanford hosted against Oregon State at Maples Pavilion — passing former Duke men's coach Mike "Coach K" Krzyzewski.

Not dwelling on her feat, VanDerveer shifted the attention to the talents of her players and their competition.

"I just love how our team battled," she said after the game. "How about Kiki?" she said, calling out Kiki Iriafen, who had just scored 36 points — a career high.

Celebrations had already begun on Friday, when the 70-year-old coach — now in her 38th season at Stanford and 45th overall — tied the most-wins record. It took Coach K 47 seasons to hit the mark.

"It's just a tribute to the great teams I've had, the great places I've worked," VanDerveer told the Pac-12 Network on Saturday. "It's great for women's basketball that there's a lot of attention," she added, "I work at a great place and I have so much support."

It's VanDerveer's latest milestone in a long career marked by success.

Credited with filling more seats at women's games, VanDerveer quickly made Stanford an NCAA powerhouse. She's led the Cardinal to three NCAA titles and 25 conference regular-season titles. Seven Stanford alumni have gone on to win eight WNBA titles.

During the 1995-96 season, she took leave from Stanford to serve as head coach of the women's national team which she led to the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta to win a gold medal with an undefeated record.

In a recent interview with The New York Times, VanDerveer spilled a few secrets to her success: Hiring right, staying even-keeled and taking risks are key, she says. Getting her own coach (a piano teacher to help her learn the instrument) has also given her inspiration.

Before arriving at Stanford in 1985, she began her coaching career at age 24 with Ohio State and later Idaho.

A lot has changed in women's college basketball since VanDerveer graduated from Indiana University in 1975, where she held starting guard positions on the women's basketball team. At a post-game conference on Saturday, she reflected on how far the sport has come.

"We practiced at 7:30 at night because the boys went from 2 to 7," she said. "We had Hamburger Helper when we got home at 9:30 or 10 o'clock at night. We washed our own uniforms, we bought our own shoes, we drove vans. ... My coach was a graduate student.

"Just to see the experience they get now, I'm jealous in a way. But I would talk to my college teammates and say, 'Someday, there's going to be scholarships for girls — aha, that'll never happen,' "she said. "My timing was horrible for playing, but it was very good for coaching. ... To experience this is more than I ever could have dreamed of."

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