BALTIMORE—Just two months after leading the Retrievers to their first-ever America East regular-season title and a berth in the Women's National Invitation Tournament, UMBC head women's basketball coach Phil Stern has agreed to a new six-year contract that runs through the 2016-17 season, Director of Athletics Dr. Charles Brown announced today.
"I am honored and thankful to be able to continue to coach at an incredible university that has such high academic standards and great leadership," Stern said. "I want to thank President (Freeman) Hrabowski, Provost (Elliot) Hirshman and Dr. Brown for their continued support of our vision for UMBC women's basketball in the classroom, on the court and in the community. We will continue to bring in quality young ladies who embody the true definition of the term 'student-athlete.'"
Stern was named America East Coach of the Year after guiding the Retrievers, who were picked to finish fifth in the America East preseason poll, to a 20-12 overall record and a 13-3 mark in league play. After starting this season 1-5, Stern's squad finished strong, going 19-7 over the last 26 games and winning the final six America East contests of the year en route to the regular-season crown.
UMBC's 20 wins match the school record, which was set by the 1985-86 squad, and were the most ever in UMBC's Division I era, while the Retrievers' 13 America East victories were their most in eight seasons in the conference. In addition, the Retrievers consistently received votes in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll over the last six weeks of the season.
UMBC earned the top seed in the America East Championship and defeated No. 8 Stony Brook before falling to fourth-seeded and eventual champion Hartford in the semifinals. The Retrievers earned the conference's automatic berth to the WNIT, where they gave the University of Florida a run for its money, leading the Gators at halftime, before falling, 59-47.
The WNIT was not the first time that Stern has led the Retrievers to the postseason. In 2007, UMBC became the first team in America East Conference history to defeat the top three teams in the league standings en route to winning the league championship. The Retrievers knocked off No. 2 Stony Brook in the quarterfinals before defeating No. 3 Vermont in the semifinals and finally stunning top-seeded and defending champion Hartford in the championship game to bring home the program's first-ever conference title and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time.
The ninth-year Retriever mentor earned both his 100th win at UMBC and his 200th career victory in 15 seasons as a head coach during the 2011 season. He is just the second head coach in UMBC women's basketball history to reach the century mark, while he joins Hartford's Jennifer Rizzotti and BostonUniversity's Kelly Greenberg as the only active America East coaches with 200 career wins.
Stern oversaw one of the top defensive teams in the nation in 2010-11. UMBC ranked 16th in the NCAA in field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to a .352 clip, and ranked 33rd in scoring defense, allowing just 56.0 points per game – the second-best mark in school history.
Maybe even more impressive than Stern's coaching success is his team's dedication to the classroom and the community. The Retrievers posted the third-highest grade-point average (3.578) in the nation among NCAA Division I women's basketball teams during the 2009-10 academic year. That season, all 11 team members were recognized on the America East Honor Roll for earning a GPA of 3.0 or better during the spring semester, with seven student-athletes garnering Commissioner's Honor Roll status.
In the community, Stern's program is one of the most active in the entire athletic department. In addition to making school visits, hosting clinics and mentoring at local elementary and middle schools, the women's basketball team, along with UMBC's community outreach program, has welcomed an average of over 1,200 elementary and middle school students to UMBC to tour the campus and watch the Retrievers play in their annual Midday Madness game in each of the last six seasons.
"Phil Stern is a tremendous asset to the UMBC athletic department," Dr. Brown said. "His teams excel on the basketball court, are outstanding academically and give back to the community in a very positive way. I'm looking forward to working with Phil in the future to bring the team to even greater heights of success."
A native of Oceanside, N.Y., Stern graduated from Concordia College with a bachelor of arts degree in business education.