McCallie exits as Duke’s women’s hoops coach

After 13 seasons, Joanne P. McCallie will not return as Duke’s women’s basketball coach because of what she described as uncertainty over a contract extension as she entered the final year of her current deal.

In a video posted Thursday to the women’s basketball team’s official Twitter account, McCallie said she was fully healthy and spoke about her reasoning.

“I am choosing to step away as head coach at Duke,” McCallie said. “As a coach in the final year of my contact, uncertainty is natural and it takes away from confidence and fun. I am pretty sure there is a level of uncertainty among the Duke family.

“I want to bring clarity, with great pride for all. Throughout my entire coaching career I have thrived on providing stability and I have enjoyed long-term relationships with every program I have had the honor to serve. Clarity and principle over uncertainty must prevail.”

The school confirmed McCallie has stepped away with a 330-107 record at Duke. She was a three-time Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year, and her Blue Devils won three ACC tournament titles and reached 10 NCAA tournaments.

“Joanne’s extraordinary passion for excellence produced championship-level success and provided many timeless, captivating moments for both our student-athletes and fans,” Duke athletic director Kevin White said in a statement. “To be sure, Joanne’s unwavering commitment to leadership and service has had an enormous impact on the development of countless young women over the past three decades.”

McCallie’s contract was most recently extended in 2017 through the 2020-21 season. She said she opted “to forgo the majority of my final year of compensation to support my staff during this incredibly challenging and transitional time overall.”

Duke had a 18-12 record this past season, including a 12-6 mark in the ACC. The Blue Devils were expected to be included in the NCAA tournament before that event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but that would have marked just the third appearance in the past five seasons.

The program’s run of 21 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances under both McCallie and predecessor Gail Goestenkors ended with the 2015-16 season. Duke also had its first non-winning season in more than 25 years in 2018-19, when it finished 15-15.

Duke had no incoming recruits ranked among the top 25 by ESPN Hoopgurlz and had not signed a top 25 recruit since the 2017 class.

Diminishing results on the court, in addition to a 2016 investigation by the school for undisclosed reasons that ultimately resulted in no action, led to frequent speculation in recent years that McCallie was on the hot seat.

McCallie won more than 70% of her games at Duke but was unable to expand on the success Goestenkors enjoyed while building Duke into a perennial national contender.

Goestenkors, who won 80% of her games in 15 seasons before leaving for Texas, reached the Final Four on four occasions and twice reached the national championship game.

McCallie was unable to reach the Final Four at Duke, although that streak was not without some bad luck. The Blue Devils reached four consecutive regional finals from 2010 to 2013, losing to Brittney Griner’s Baylor, Maya Moore’s UConn, Nneka Ogwumike’s Stanford and Skylar Diggins’ Notre Dame in succession.

McCallie leaves Duke with an overall record of 646-255, including her other coaching stints at Maine and Michigan State, where she reached the national championship game and was named AP National Coach of the Year in the 2004-05 season.

Duke said a national search for a replacement would begin immediately. Classes for the fall term are currently scheduled to begin Aug. 17.

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