AMHERST, Mass. -- Sharon Dawley was announced as the new head coach of the University of Massachusetts women’s basketball team on Tuesday, shortly after resigning from the same position at the University of Vermont.
Dawley, who joins the Minutewomen after a highly successful tenure with the Catamounts that included two consecutive America East titles (2008-09 and 2009-10) and three straight postseason berths, will become the 10th head coach in UMass’ program history.
"I am extremely excited for this opportunity to be the head women’s basketball coach at the University of Massachusetts and return to my home state," Dawley said. "UMass has been a school I admired growing up and I believe this program has a lot of potential and opportunity for growth and that has me excited. I can’t wait to get started getting to know the returning players and working with them."
"I am extremely pleased that Sharon is joining us," said UMass athletic director John McCutcheon. "She has a proven record of success and is highly respected by her peers. We are very excited about the future of UMass women’s basketball."
Dawley’s resignation from UVM, in order to accept the UMass job, was announced shortly before her press conference in Amherst.
"We are very disappointed to lose Sharon, and particularly after such a wonderful season. But we recognize that good coaches are in high demand and she is definitely a good coach. Sharon has been offered and has accepted an exceptional opportunity at UMass and we wish her the very best," said UVM athletic director Robert Corran. "We also thank her for her efforts in returning our women’s basketball program to a level of national prominence. This past season’s success will certainly assist us as we now focus on the search for a new head coach."
In seven seasons at Vermont, Dawley posted a mark of 128-86 (.598) and holds a career record of 265-148 (.642) through 16 seasons as a head coach. She became the winningest coach in Vermont women’s basketball history when the Catamounts upset No. 7-seed Wisconsin in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on March, 21, the program’s first NCAA tournament victory.
Under Dawley’s guidance this past season, Vermont earned an automatic NCAA berth as a No. 10 seed after successfully defending its America East Tournament title. The Catamounts defeated top-seeded and No. 21-ranked Hartford in the conference championship game, 55-50. UVM posted a record of 27-7 in 2009-10, the third-highest wins total for the program all-time and led the nation with 18 road victories.
Dawley earned her 100th career win at Vermont with a 66-56 victory over Hartford in the semifinals of the 2009 America East Championship as UVM went on to capture its first conference title since 2000. The Catamounts made their first NCAA Tournament appearance in nine years where the squad fell to eventual national champion Connecticut.
During Dawley’s stint on the Vermont sidelines, 23 of the 28 players that took the floor for Dawley earned either academic and/or athletic accolades from America East. She coached an America East Player of the Year, a Defensive Player of the Year, a Rookie of the Year, a two-time Scholar-Athlete and a two-time Most Outstanding Player at the America East Tournament.
Under Dawley’s direction, the Catamounts earned six all-conference selections, four all-rookie nods and two all-academic team honors. In 2007-08, Dawley guided Vermont to one of its best seasons in the program’s existence. The Catamounts went 24-9 overall, recording the fourth most wins all-time, and were the America East runners-up during the regular season with a 13-3 league mark.
UVM also earned its second trip to the Postseason WNIT Tournament in school history and the first postseason appearance in Dawley’s tenure. The Catamounts drew regional rival Dartmouth in the first round of the 2008 WNIT and Dawley faced her former mentor Chris Wielgus on the opposing sideline. Vermont defeated the Big Green to earn the team’s third postseason victory all-time and advanced to the second round of the WNIT for the second time in the program’s annals.
In 2006-07, Dawley led UVM to a 19-12 record and a third place finish in America East. She guided the Catamounts to a 13-3 start and the year was highlighted with Vermont’s first-ever win over a ranked opponent when the Catamounts upset No. 22 Boston College in the championship game of the URI Invitational. After being picked to finish eighth in the league’s preseason poll, Dawley coached Vermont to a No. 3 seed in the America East Championship and the Catamounts advanced to the semifinals.
The Catamounts were also named one of the most improved teams in the country at the Division-I level following the 2006-07 campaign. In Dawley’s first season on the Vermont sidelines (2003-04), she posted the best start by a first-year head coach at Vermont, guiding the Catamounts to a 6-2 mark to begin the season. Vermont finished the year with a record of 14-13 and wrapped up the regular season with victories over No. 1 Maine, No. 2 Binghamton and No. 4 Albany on the road. Vermont’s victory at Maine snapped the Black Bears’ 31-game conference win streak.
Under Dawley’s guidance, the Vermont women’s basketball team also enjoyed success in the classroom. During her seven years at the helm of the Catamounts, her student-athletes earned 55 America East Academic Honor Roll citations, including 23 nominations to the America East Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll for achieving a cumulative grade-point average of 3.5 or higher. On Dawley’s watch, May Kotsopoulos earned the America East Women’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete honor twice heading into the 2009-10 season.
Three of Dawley’s players at Vermont were named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District I Women’s Basketball First Team and Kotsopoulos became the third player in school history to be tabbed an ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American in 2010. Amy Rosenkrantz ‘09 and Kotsopoulos were candidates for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Women’s Basketball Award in back-to-back years, as well.
In 2003-04, Dawley’s first year at Vermont, the Catamounts ranked 10th out of the top 25 Division-I teams selected to the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Academic Top 25 Team Honor Roll for Division I. The award recognizes the nation’s highest team grade point averages for that season.
Prior to arriving at Vermont, Dawley spent 10 years as a member of the women’s basketball staff at Dartmouth College. She served as an assistant coach from 1993-97 and was promoted to associate head coach under Chris Wielgus in July of 1997. Before joining the Dartmouth staff, Dawley served as head women’s basketball coach at Tufts University for nine seasons. She compiled a record of 137-62 (.688).
Dawley led the Jumbos to a Northeast Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship in just her third season (1986-87). Tufts reached the NIACC title game in her first five seasons. The Jumbos advanced to the ECAC Championship semifinals in three of Dawley’s final four seasons, the first postseason appearances in the program’s history.
In October of 2009, Dawley was inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame. She was one of two inductees in the Division-I College Women’s Coaches category. A native of Revere, Mass., Dawley earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business from St. Anselm College (Manchester, N.H.) in 1983.