After 12 years as the Gopher Women’s Basketball Head Coach, Pam Borton was fired this past Friday.
The announcement reportedly came the day after the Gophers’ 70 – 62 NIT loss to the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State University last Thursday.
Borton, 48, finished her tenure with an overall record of (236 – 152) — however, her greatest success with the Gophers occurred in her first few years with the program.
In her first three seasons as the head coach of the Gophers, Borton lead the team to two Sweet Sixteen appearances (in 2003 and 2005) and a memorable Final Four run in 2004. That particular team featured standouts Lindsay Whalen and Janel McCarville, and caused scores of Minnesota sports fans to pay close attention to the team for the first time in years.
Since 2005, the results have been less than impressive for the Gopher women — they’ve made it into the NCAA Tournament just three times in eight years, failing to advance past the second round each time (they lost in their opening game twice). In fact, since the 2010 season, the Gophers have not received an invitation back to the women’s 64-team “Big Dance.”
In addition — and related — to their slumping performance on the court, the decision to part ways with Borton may be tied to the decline in Gopher women’s ticket sales. At the height of their success under Borton — in 2003-2004 — the Gophers drew an average of over 9,700 fans per game to Williams Arena. In contrast, average attendance was under 3,200 per game this season.
Borton was under contract through the 2015-2016 season and will receive a $335,000 buyout.
Former Gopher player Kelly Roysland, who has been an assistant under Borton for the last four years will take over as acting head coach during the search for a permanent replacement.
University of Minnesota Athletic Director Norwood Teague sounded optimistic about the the future prospects of the team under the direction of a new coach,
“This is a golden opportunity for a coach. This program has succeeded in the past. We’ve proven we can win. We have unbelievable support… We’re going to have a lot of people interested in this job. I’m looking forward to the candidate pool being very strong. And we’re going to get somebody terrific.’’
Despite failing to live up to the high bar she set back during the ‘Whalen/McCarville Era’ in more recent years, Pam Borton’s shoes may be tough to fill.
Borton has arguably been the most successful overall coach in University of Minnesota Women’s Basketball history. Her 236 career wins as head coach place her atop the Gophers’ all-time list, and she lead the maroon and gold to six of their eight total NCAA Tournament appearances since the program’s inception.
Photos via: Associated Press