Baltimore-Just one month after leading the Retrievers to their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance, UMBC head women's basketball coach Phil Stern has signed a four-year contract extension that runs through the 2010-11 season, Director of Athletics Dr. Charles Brown announced today.
"I am thankful for the support provided to me and the women's basketball program by President [Freeman] Hrabowski, Provost [Art] Johnson, Dr. Brown and the UMBC community over the last five years," Stern said. "This year we took an unprecedented step for basketball at UMBC and hope to continue to capitalize on the exposure that the America East championship has brought to our program."
Under Stern's guidance, the Retrievers 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 tournament. UMBC 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. The Retrievers fell to No. 1 Connecticut in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The league championship game was nothing new to Stern, as he took the Retrievers to the Northeast Conference title bout in 2002, his first year at UMBC.
The following year, Stern led UMBC into the stronger America East Conference, where the Retrievers endured some growing pains. But in 2005-06, UMBC began the season 6-1 – the best start in program history – and Stern turned that early success into an extremely successful season. The Retrievers went 15-13 and earned a No. 5 seed in the conference tournament.
The 2005-06 team set single-season records for three-point field goal percentage and assists in a season while ranking in the top five all-time in seven other categories, including wins, scoring defense and field goal percentage. Since his arrival, Stern's squads have been some of the top shooting teams in UMBC history, while three of his five teams have held opponents under 60.0 points per game.
Last season's 15 wins were UMBC's most since the 1993-94 campaign, but the Retrievers topped that this year with 16 victories, the second-most in a season during UMBC's Division-I history.
"Phil Stern has definitely put UMBC women's basketball on the right track," Dr. Brown said. "The appearance in the NCAA Tournament was a huge boost to our entire athletic program. We are looking forward to continued success."
Maybe even more impressive than his coaching success is his team's dedication to the classroom and the community. Over the past five years, the women's basketball team has been one of the athletic department's leaders in the classroom, recording better than a 3.0 grade-point average each year. The team won the Retriever Cup for the 2005-06 school year and had one of the highest team GPAs in UMBC athletics as well as the highest team GPA among America East women's basketball squads last season. In addition, Erin Voss, a four-year team member, is the salutatorian of UMBC's Class of 2007 and will attend medical school at the University of Wisconsin.
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, have welcomed nearly 800 elementary and middle school students to UMBC to tour the campus and watch the Retrievers play each of the last two seasons. Furthermore, four student-athletes spent their spring break last year with Habitat for Humanity, helping gut houses in the New Orleans area.
A native of Oceanside, N.Y., Stern is a 1994 graduate of Concordia College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in business education.