Stollings leaves for University of Minnesota

Marlene Stollings, center, confers with her assistants during VCU’s 63-62 victory against the University of Richmond on Feb. 8. The Lady Rams went 2-1 against Richmond in 2013-14.

Alonzo Small
Contributing Writer 

Former VCU women’s basketball head coach Marlene Stollings resigned last Monday, April 7 to accept the same position with the University of Minnesota. The news came roughly three weeks after Stollings’ team completed one of the most successful turnarounds in VCU program history, as the Lady Rams compiled a 22-10 record and earned a spot in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament.

In two years as the Lady Rams’ head coach, Stollings coached VCU to an overall record of 33-29. She revamped the program after going just 11-19 in her first season with the Lady Rams.

Stollings helped initiate the fast-paced style of play VCU has coined “Fury.” Under her coaching, the Lady Rams set several new program records including highest scoring average (75.8 points per game), single-game point total (112 on two separate occasions) and three-pointers made (235).

In addition, Stollings coached VCU to its best start in school history this past season, going 15-2  in its first 17 games. The impressive start also included a school-record 13 straight victories spanning November to January.

Before she left, Stollings was quick to thank VCU, her colleagues, players and staff among others for a great two years

“VCU provided the opportunity for me to coach at a high level in the Atlantic 10,” Stollings said.  “I was fortunate to be surrounded by dedicated winners and people who inspired and challenged me.”

Now Stollings leaves the A-10 to join the Big 10, where she will coach her third team in four years.

On Tuesday, April 8, former VCU Athletic Director Norwood Teague, who left for Minnesota before Stollings was hired at VCU in 2012, introduced her as the new head coach of the Minnesota Lady Gophers.

“When we began this search, we were looking for the right candidate for the university, for our women’s basketball program and especially our student athletics,” Teague said. “After a careful and very detailed process, we arrived at the person we feel is the right choice to lead the Golden Gophers in to the future. That person is Marlene Stollings.”

Teague praised Stollings for her track record as a head coach and recruiter.

“At each step in her career, she has improved the program big time.” Teague said. “You have seen her records at Winthrop and VCU. She has demonstrated the ability to guide student athletes both on and off the court.”

Stollings reportedly signed a six-year deal with Minnesota that will run through the 2019-20 season. Stollings, the 11th coach in Lady Gophers program history, is expected to make a base salary of $350,000 with incentives and bonuses for media and community appearances. Additionally, her contract will reportedly increase by at least $17,500 yearly.

The only good news for VCU is that Stolling leaves behind a solid foundation for the future. Her first recruiting class as VCU’s head coach, which includes starting guards Isis Thorpe and Keira Robinson, as well as freshmen reserves Monnazjea Finney-Smith, Ashlee Mitchell, Camille Calhoun and Briana DuBose averaged a combination of 35 points per game in 2013-14.

Before departing for Minnesota, Stollings also helped build the program’s 2014-15 recruiting class by signing forwards Yazmine Belk and Curteeona Brelove, who will join the team next season.

VCU’s search for a new women’s head basketball coach is currently underway, though no candidates have been mentioned.

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