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Is Tonya Cardoza returning to UConn?

The Huskies posted a job opening for a new assistant coach and there’s one person who checks all the boxes.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

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Last week’s Weekly:


Is Tonya Cardoza primed to return to UConn?

UConn women’s basketball will have an additional assistant coach for the 2023-24 season thanks to a rule change by the NCAA. Teams can hire two additional coaches, though the new staffers are not allowed to do any off-campus recruiting.

Last week, the Huskies officially posted the opening. Based on the qualifications, it looks like they have one person in mind: Tonya Cardoza.

An assistant on Geno Auriemma’s staff from 1994-2008, Cardoza helped UConn win five national championships. She left to take the head job at Temple in 2008 and held that position through the 2022 season, where she amassed a 251-188 record to become the winningest coach in program history.

The job listing describes Cardoza’s coaching career almost exactly. Emphasis is added.


  • Bachelor’s degree.
  • Ten or more years of head coaching experience in a women’s collegiate Division I basketball program.
  • Coaching experience in multiple NCAA Division I national championship games.
  • Working knowledge of the correct application of NCAA regulations.
  • Strong commitment to the academic goals of the University.
  • Excellent organizational, teaching, communication, and public relations skills.


  • Collegiate basketball national champion coach.
  • Possesses coaching and student-athlete development philosophies consistent with that of the Division of Athletics and its women’s basketball program.

While there are plenty of coaches who could qualify (Kim Mulkey, Dawn Staley, Geno himself), Cardoza is the only one who’s currently a realistic free agent — unless Muffet McGraw plans to come out of retirement.

This isn’t the only time the Huskies have tailor-made a job posting for a new assistant coach. After Shea Ralph left to take over at Vanderbilt in 2021, UConn had specific requirements for its next coach — which Auriemma himself didn’t even meet.

  • Five years of coaching experience working within a women’s collegiate Division I basketball program
  • Coaching experience at two or more universities that are members of Power 5 conferences
  • Division I head coaching experience
  • Coaching experience on team(s) that have advanced to at least the regional round of the NCAA D I WBB Championship
  • Demonstrated experience coaching players who have achieved conference and/or national honors
  • Former playing experience at the Division I collegiate level

The Huskies ended up hiring Valley, who worked as an assistant at Virginia Tech, Washington, and Arizona (all Power Five members) before taking over at Hartford (Division I head coaching experience). During her time at Washington, the other Huskies reached the Final Four in 2016 (well past the regional round) and she coached Kelsey Plum, who swept the national player of the year awards in 2017 (national honors). Valley also played at UConn from 2000-04, giving her the necessary playing experience at the Division I level.

The job posting for the new assistant closed on Wednesday, July 5, so the hire should be announced soon.

Assuming it is Cardoza, UConn will have one of the most experienced coaching staffs in the nation. Associate head coach Chris Dailey has been by Auriemma’s side since he was hired to lead the Huskies in 1985 and is 17-0 as acting head coach. Assistant coaches Jamelle Elliott (Cincinnati) and Valley (Hartford) have both been head coaches and both played at UConn.

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