Mike Carey has coached his last game at West Virginia University.
The longtime head coach of Mountaineers’ women’s basketball announced Wednesday that he is calling it quits. The winningest coach in the history of the program is retiring after 21 seasons on the job in Morgantown.
“This has been a lot of fun, and I am certainly proud of what we were able to build and accomplish,” Carey said in a statement. “I also want to thank the state of West Virginia and our incredible fans. The support and loyalty throughout my tenure at WVU, through both highs and lows, makes me proud to be from this state.”
Carey, 63, resigns after a difficult year for WVU, in which the team finished 15-15 after being ranked in the AP Top 25 Poll to start the season. West Virginia won a game in the Big 12 tournament – topping TCU – but then fell to Iowa State 66-60 in Carey’s final game.
West Virginia initially accepted a bid to the WNIT, but pulled out on Monday. Athletic director Shane Lyons cited “team injuries” and “the transfer portal” “limiting roster availability,” as to why WVU decided not to play.
“I want to thank Mike for 21 years of dedication to this university. He was willing to take over our program at a difficult time in its history and made it nationally competitive,” Lyons said in a statement. “Mike and I have had several discussions prior to this season about continuing to lead our program in the future, and each time he wanted to wait and be patient to make sure that was what he wanted to do, so I know he has been thinking about this for quite some time.”
A native of Clarksburg, Carey was hired as the Mountaineers head coach in 2001 after coaching the men’s team at Division II Salem for 13 seasons, where he won 288 games.
He would nearly double that win total in Morgantown after turning WVU into a program that was nationally relevant and one that regularly appeared in the postseason. In 16 of Carey’s 21 seasons, West Virginia played in either the NCAA Tournament or the WNIT – making 10 trips to the Big Dance and six to the WNIT.
The one hurdle Carey couldn’t get over as the Mountaineers’ head coach was leading the team to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Last season’s team seemed poised to appear in the Sweet 16 – with WNBA Draft pick Kysre Gondrezick leading the way – but was upset in a 4-5 matchup with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
Still, Carey accomplished so much in Morgantown that few thought was possible. He led the Mountaineers to a Big 12 regular season title in 2014, and a Big 12 tournament championship in 2017. Both were firsts for the program in conference play since they belonged to Atlantic 10 in the late 80s and early 90s. Carey’s teams also made the final four of the WNIT three times, twice finishing as runners-up.
Carey inherited a program that went 5-22 the year before he was hired – under the direction of Alexis Basil. On Carey’s watch, the Mountaineers never had less than double-digit wins, and finished a season under .500 just once. WVU had a winning record in 18 of Carey’s 21 seasons.
A two-time Big East Coach of the Year – in 2004 and 2010, and a Big 12 Coach of the Year in 2014 – Carey leaves West Virginia with a 447-239 record, a win percentage of 65.2%. Combined with his time at Salem, Carey leaves college basketball with 735 wins.
In all, he coached 10 All-Americans, 10 future WNBA players and 20 Mountaineers who scored at least 1,000 points.
“I have had a wonderful career coaching at the high school, Division II and Power 5 levels, but I want to now take some time for myself and family, to sit back, breathe and enjoy what has been a long and fun career,” Carey said. “I have five grandkids that are growing up so fast, and I look forward to spending much more time with them.”
Lyons said that a national search for Carey’s replacement will begin immediately.
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