Sports

UNC hires Princeton’s Banghart as women’s basketball coach

North Carolina hired Princeton head coach Courtney Banghart as its new women’s basketball coach Tuesday.

The UNC Board of Trustees held an emergency meeting Tuesday to discuss the hiring.

“Courtney Banghart has proven she knows how to lead students to wins both on and off the court,’’ UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham said in a statement. “She believes in developing strong character and a championship mentality, in recruiting and graduating players who want to serve their community, and in building relationships in and outside of her program.”

Banghart will make $650,000 in total compensation in year one of her five-year contract, which includes her base salary, supplemental pay, money from Nike and personal expenses. Her compensation will increase by $20,000 each year until her contract ends after the 2023-24 season.

She has the potential to make as much as $470,000 in bonus pay for achieving certain goals, such as making the NCAA tournament, her team accumulating a 3.0 GPA or better, winning the ACC regular season, etc.

“I’m so grateful to everyone who has made Carolina what it is: the women who have worn the Carolina blue, Coach Hatchell who hung a banner, the men’s program that brought us the Jumpman, the outstanding coaches who have been a model of consistent excellence, and the alumni who have loved this place with all their hearts,’’ Banghart said in a release. “I’m honored to be your coach, and you will get my very best.”

Banghart replaces Hall of Fame head coach Sylvia Hatchell, who resigned on April 18 after an internal investigation determined she made racially insensitive remarks in front of players and pressured players to play injured.

Hatchell had coached at UNC since 1986, winning an NCAA title in 1994.

Hatchell and three of her assistant coaches —Andrew Calder, Sylvia Crawley and Bett Shelby — were initially placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation. After Hatchell resigned, most of the assistant coaches remained employed through Tuesday. Shelby, who joined UNC’s program for the 2018-19 season, announced she was taking a job as an assistant coach at West Virginia last week.

Cunningham refused to say whether the assistants were fired or resigned.

“Today’s the last day of our assistant coaches on staff,” Cunningham said Tuesday in a brief telephone interview. When asked whether the assistant coaches were fired or resigned, Cunningham did not elaborate. “I’m just saying, today’s their last day.”

Later Tuesday night, a school spokesperson called to clarify that Calder took an early retirement and Crawley resigned.

Calder had been Hatchell’s longtime assistant and was at UNC since 1986. Crawley spent six years as an assistant at UNC over two stints, and played on the 1994 NCAA national championship team.

Four players entered the NCAA transfer portal after the season. One player, Destinee Walker, announced last weekend that she was transferring to Notre Dame.

Banghart said in a teleconference Tuesday that she will be on campus Wednesday to meet the players who remain with the program.

“That will include the players that have chosen North Carolina and are standing by it, and that will also include the people who have chosen North Carolina, and there was a gap in what they were hoping for,” she said. “So I look forward to meeting both kind of sets of people, and know that I want — after I listen, is to know what I want moving forward is people excited about our journey, because I am.”

Banghart, 40, played college basketball at Dartmouth from 1996 to 2000. She was a two-time first-team All-Ivy selection and her 273 career 3-pointers was an Ivy League record. Her first head coaching job was at Princeton, where she was hired in 2007.

She is 245-103 in 12 seasons, and has made it to the NCAA tournament in eight of the last 10 years (and the Women’s NIT in the other two). Prior to that, Princeton had never played in the NCAA tournament. Her teams are 1-8 in the NCAA tournament.

In 2014-15, her team finished 31-1 before losing in the second round of the NCAA tournament. She was named the 2015 Naismith National Coach of the Year, as well as voted coach of the year by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.

Banghart said she has aspirations to win a national championship.

“I’m a winner,” Banghart said. “I’ve been able to amass the right people and I’ve been able to lead them further than they could go alone. That’s what will happen at Carolina.”

Banghart also serves on the Board of Directors for the Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Association and is one of 16 members on the NCAA Women’s Basketball Oversight Committee.

Jonathan M. Alexander has been covering the North Carolina Tar Heels since May 2018. He previously covered Duke basketball and recruiting in the ACC. He is an alumnus of N.C. Central University.
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