After a historic season for Columbia women’s basketball in which the Lions earned their first ever Ivy League regular season championship and WNIT Final appearance, coach Megan Griffith has signed a five-year extension that will keep her in Morningside Heights through the 2027-28 season.
Griffith, a King of Prussia, Pa. native, played point guard for Columbia from 2003 to 2007 and captained the team for her last three years. Over that time, she twice earned All-Ivy and Academic All-Ivy accolades. Following three years of professional basketball in Europe, she joined Courtney Banghart’s staff at Princeton, where she was director of basketball operations, assistant coach and recruiting coordinator.
When Columbia athletic director Peter Pilling tabbed the then-30-year-old to be the team’s head coach in March 2016, the Lions had just finished a five-year period in which they went 34-107 (.241) overall and 10-60 (.142) in the Ivy League.
“This is my home and I can’t thank Peter Pilling enough for taking a chance on me seven years ago. The buy-in and investment from our administration are unmatched in the history of our program and the Ivy League in general,” the coach told Columbia Athletics. “We’ve created something special for our community, our campus, our alumni and our fans, and I know we will continue to build on that.”
Griffith’s first three years of building the program yielded slow but steady progress with the Lions going 29-54 (.349) overall and 9-33 (.214). But things picked up quickly in 2019-20.
After being selected in a tie for sixth place in the preseason poll, Columbia finished the year in fourth place with an 8-6 record (17-10 overall). Unfortunately, the Lions couldn’t play in that season’s Ivy League Tournament since it was canceled due to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following the shelved 2020-21 season, Griffith led the Lions to their winningest year ever in 2022-23 with a 25-7 record and a 12-2 mark in the Ancient Eight. After reaching the Ivy League Tournament final, the Lions received a bid to the WNIT and achieved a then-Ivy-best appearance in the Great 8.
With high expectations for 2022-23, Columbia went 28-6 overall and earned their first-ever Ivy League regular season championship with another 12-2 record. In their record-breaking year, the Lions beat Memphis, Seton Hall, UMass, Princeton and eventual Elite 8 participant Miami while finishing sixth in the College Insider Mid-Major poll and earning votes in several weeks of AP and USA Today Top 25 national polls.
Unfortunately for the Lions, a strong mid-major without a lengthy basketball history, an overtime loss to Harvard in the Ivy Tournament was the excuse the NCAA selection committee needed to keep Columbia from its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Instead of focusing on the heartbreak, Griffith and her team quickly rebounded in their second straight WNIT appearance. They defeated Syracuse in the Super 16 and Harvard in a Great 8 rematch before losing a close final at Kansas.
On top of all the on-court success, the coach and her team have created a buzz on campus with many sold-out games and a passionate group of fans that travel well to opposing league gyms.
Coaches from several of the teams defeated by Griffith’s Lions this year saw their fortunes improve after the end of the season. Katrina Merriweather went from Memphis to Cincinnati, Tory Verdi moved from Massachusetts to Pittsburgh, and Robyn Fralick went from Bowling Green to Michigan State. While Griffith’s name was never publicly linked with any of those jobs or the recently filled position at Georgetown, it would not be a surprise if any of those programs took a hard look at Griffith.
With her team at the top of the conference and her position secure for the next several years, Griffith will now look to sustain the program’s recent success, win a conference tourney title when Ivy Madness arrives at Levien Gymnasium next March and secure the elusive Big Dance bid.
“I’m incredibly excited to continue this journey at Columbia,” Griffith told Columbia Athletics. “While we have accomplished several firsts and broken numerous records, there is still much work to do! We have unfinished business, and I am hungrier than ever to get back to work.”