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UConn assistant Shea Ralph named head coach at Vanderbilt

Ralph gets her first head coaching gig after spending 13 years on the bench with the Huskies.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

After 13 years as an assistant under Geno Auriemma at UConn, Shea Ralph will finally get her a chance to run her own program. On Tuesday, Vanderbilt announced Ralph as its newest head coach.

“It is with great honor and a full heart that I join Vanderbilt University as the next women’s basketball head coach,” Ralph said in a release. “I have always been motivated and inspired by people who have a passionate pursuit of excellence. Vanderbilt’s rich, storied tradition of excellence speaks for itself, but I believe what sets us apart is the people. I am so excited to work alongside our amazing community in elevating our women’s basketball program back to an elite level. Together we will invest in each other and build a greatness that transcends the game of basketball.”

Tom Garrick, Ralph’s husband and the head coach at UMass Lowell, is expected to join the staff at Vanderbilt. He previously spent six seasons from 2009-2015 as an assistant/associate head coach with the Commodores.

Ralph started as an assistant with the Huskies back in 2008 after five years on the staff at Pitt. Since then, UConn advanced to the Final Four every year and captured six national championships.

Ralph also played for the Huskies from 1996-2001, where she was named an All-American, won Big East Player of the Year and helped captured a national championship in 2000.

“I would like to congratulate Shea on being named the head coach at Vanderbilt University,” UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said in a release. “I know everyone here at UConn is incredibly excited for Shea. It’s an amazing opportunity to be at such a great university in a great city. Shea has had a huge impact on the UConn women’s basketball program, as both a player and a coach. We’re going to miss her tremendously — she brought passion and energy to everything she did in Storrs. But we know she’s going to do amazing things at Vanderbilt and we wish her the best.”

Ralph was not with the team during the NCAA Tournament after leaving the bubble in San Antonio out of an abundance of caution after a family member tested positive for COVID-19. NCAA policy did not allow her to return.

In 2018, an anonymous survey of 235 Division I programs by High Post Hoops tabbed Ralph as the current assistant most likely to be a successful head coach.

With Ralph’s departure, UConn has now lost three assistants in the last four seasons. Marisa Moseley left to take the head coaching position at BU, her alma mater, and was hired at Wisconsin this offseason. Jasmine Lister took a mysterious leave of absence during the 2019-20 campaign and resigned at the end of the year.

UConn’s coaching staff currently includes Auriemma, Chris Dailey and Jamelle Elliott. The Huskies will “commence a national search” to find a new assistant.