Tara VanDerveer becomes winningest coach in college basketball history

Head coach Tara VanDerveer of the Stanford Cardinal celebrates with her player Cameron Brink #22 after Stanford defeated the Oregon State Beavers 65-56 at Stanford Maples Pavilion on Jan. 21, 2024, in Palo Alto, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Hende

Tara VanDerveer, the head women's basketball coach at Stanford University, became the winningest coach in men's and women's NCAA basketball history over the weekend.

VanDerveer notched her 1,203rd win over her decades-long career in a 65-56 win over Oregon State on Sunday evening, according to the NCAA. The victory meant VanDerveer surpassed legendary Duke coach Mike Krzyzewsk, or "Coach K," who recorded 1,202 career wins.

Stanford Cardinal Forward Kiki Iriafen had a career performance with 36 points and 11 rebounds on Sunday, making VanDerveer’s new record possible. 

Coach K made a statement about Vanderveer's new record, sending her congratulations, according to the Mercury News.

"This is a tremendous accomplishment for Tara VanDerveer, who is already one of the most accomplished coaches in the history of basketball," Krzyzewski said in the statement, according to The Mercury News. "This is yet another milestone to add to an amazing legacy. More important than all the astounding numbers and career accomplishments, she’s positively impacted countless lives as a coach and a mentor. Tara remains a true guardian of our sport."


Head coach Tara VanDerveer of the Stanford Cardinal talks to the fans after Stanford defeated the Oregon State Beavers 65-56 at Stanford Maples Pavilion on Jan. 21, 2024, in Palo Alto, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

VanDerveer began her basketball career as a point guard-turned-center at Albany, located about 150 miles west of her hometown of Melrose, Massachusetts, according to the NCAA.

After two seasons, she transferred to Indiana to play under Indiana women's coach Bea Gorton, who modeled her program after the school's legendary men's coach Bobby Knight. 

"The Hoosier legend surged to an AIAW semi-final appearance in candy stripes and quickly turned her Knight-informed philosophy toward coaching," the NCAA said. 

VanDerveer briefly coached with her sister’s high school team, as well as at the Ohio State University, before landing her first head coaching job in 1978 at the University of Idaho in Moscow.

Two years later, VanDerveer returned to Ohio State as head coach, where she developed the Buckeyes into a nationally-ranked team. By 1985, she was hired as head coach at Stanford – where she managed to win three NCAA national championships, most recently a 2021 title.

She’s also received five Coach of the Year recognitions and 14 Final Four appearances, according to the NCAA.

VanDerveer also coached the United States national women's basketball team, earning gold in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and bronze in the 1994 Sydney FIBA women's championships.

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The winningest college basketball coaches

Here are the college basketball coaches who have recorded the most wins, according to the NCAA.

Men’s basketball:

  1. Mike Krzyzewski - 1202
  2. Jim Boeheim - 1015
  3. Bob Huggins - 935
  4. Jim Calhoun - 920
  5. Roy Williams - 903
  6. Bob Knight - 902
  7. Dean Smith - 879
  8. Adolph Rupp - 876
  9. Jim Phelan - 830
  10. Cliff Ellis - 828

Women’s basketball:

  1. Tara VanDerveer - 1203
  2. Geno Auriemma - 1196
  3. Pat Summitt - 1098
  4. Barbara Stevens - 1058
  5. Vivian Stringer - 1055
  6. Sylvia Hatchell - 1023
  7. Muffet McGraw - 936
  8. Andy Yosinoff - 908
  9. Jim Foster - 903
  10. Jody Conradt - 900

This story was reported from Cincinnati.