Reports: North Carolina to hire Princeton’s Courtney Banghart as coach

Courtney Banghart is pictured appearing on CNBC in 2015 after being named one of Fortune Magazine’s 50 World’s Greatest Leaders, talking lessons in leadership on and off the court. Banghart’s strength as a leader will have to come to the fore at North Carolina, where she is expected to take over to succeed longtime coach Sylvia Hatchell, who resigned this month after an independent investigation found that Hatchell made racially offensive remarks and pressured players to compete while hurt. (CNBC)

Early Monday evening, Jeff Gravley of WRAL in Raleigh tweeted that North Carolina is expected to hire Princeton coach Courtney Banghart to fill the same role at UNC. The Associated Press reported late Monday night that Banghart would take over the Tar Heels.

If true, Banghart would replace Hall of Fame coach Sylvia Hatchell, who led the Tar Heels for 33 years and resigned on April 18 after an independent investigation found that the coach made racially insensitive remarks to her players, pressured players and medical staff to get athletes on the court before they were medically cleared and developed a breakdown of connectivity between herself and her players.

The UNC Board of Trustees will hold an emergency meeting by conference call Tuesday morning and is expected to approve Banghart’s contract, Gravley reported,

At this time, Princeton Athletics could not be reached for comment.

Banghart has been in charge at Princeton for the last 12 years and is the program’s most successful coach.  In her tenure at Old Nassau, she has a won 71.1 percent of her total games (254-103) and an even better 81.6 percent of Ivy League contests (137-31).  The Tigers, which never made it into the NCAA Tournament prior to Banghart’s arrival, have won seven Ivy titles during her head coaching career, including the last two seasons.  Her teams have made it into the NCAA Tournament eight of the last 10 years, with the 2015-16 team earning the Ivy League’s first ever at-large bid.

The highlight of these years was the 2014-15 campaign, when she led the Orange & Black to a 30-0 regular season, a No. 13 national ranking and a first-round NCAA Tournament victory against Green Bay.  For her efforts, Banghart was named the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Coach of the Year, ECAC Coach of the Year and one of Fortune Magazine’s 50 Greatest Leaders.

During her time at Princeton, four of Banghart’s athletes have won six Ivy League Player of the Year awards – Addie Micir (’11), Niveen Rasheed (’12, ’13), Blake Dietrick (’15), and Bella Alarie (’18. ’19).  She has also coached 20 first-team All-Ivy picks, nine second-team selections, two honorable mention recipients and two CoSIDA Academic All-Americans.

The Manchester, N.H. native played her collegiate ball at Dartmouth from 1996 to 2000. A three-year starter for the Big Green, Banghart was a two-time first-team All-Ivy honoree (1999, 2000) and holds the Ivy League record with 273 career three-pointers. In 1998-99, she hit 97 treys and was given the Ed Seitz Award as the top three-point specialist in the nation.

After graduating from Dartmouth, she worked at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Va., serving as the girls’ athletic director and the head coach of the girls’ basketball and tennis teams.  In 2003, she returned to Dartmouth as an assistant coach and stayed there until taking the Princeton job in 2007.

Under Hatchell, North Carolina won the 1994 National Championship, eight ACC Championships and made it to three Final Fours.  However, the coach and her team have struggled in recent years, going three seasons in row (2016-2018) without an NCAA tournament appearance. This year’s team went 18-15 and got back to the Tournament, only to lose in the first round by 20 to California.  In addition, the Tar Heels have lost six players to transfer in the last five years and four players are presently in the NCAA transfer portal.

With the reported hiring of Banghart, UNC has decided to make a clean break from Hatchell and her extended athletic family tree. Ivy League coaches, players and fans know that Banghart, who was rumored to be a candidate for the recent high-profile vacancies at Tennessee and Georgia Tech, is more than capable of succeeding at a high major program and restoring the image of a once proud program that has fallen on troubled times.

Princeton Athletic Director Mollie Marcoux Samaan will now have the difficult task of figuring out who will take over the league’s premier program to continue the winning legacy left behind by Courtney Banghart, who in a dozen years established herself as one of the most dominant coaches in the history of Ivy League basketball.

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