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March 12, 2011
CHARLOTTESVILLE—Craig Littlepage, University of Virginia director of athletics, announced Saturday that Debbie Ryan has decided to step down as women’s head basketball coach effective at the end of the 2010-11 season.
Ryan, a member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, has been the head coach of the Virginia women’s basketball team for 34 years, all but four years of the program’s existence. She also served as an assistant coach in the program for two years before becoming head coach.
"Throughout her 36 years at the University of Virginia, Debbie Ryan has been the model for dignity, dedication, class and courage,” Littlepage said. “No one has a greater love for the University of Virginia and I’m grateful for all of her contributions to our women’s basketball program and our department. In addition to her contributions to the game nationally, her impact has been felt on the international basketball scene as well.
“Debbie is a unique treasure to our local community and those of us who have worked directly with her have been tremendously enriched."
Ryan’s Virginia teams have compiled an overall record of 736-323, won 20 or more games 23 times and 30 or more twice. The Cavaliers participated in the NCAA Tournament 24 times under her direction and made three consecutive Final Four appearances from 1990-92.
Only eight other active Division I women’s basketball coaches have reached the 700-win milestone.
“I am leaving the program in excellent condition as we have great players here and on the way,” Ryan said. “Our players are good students and exemplify the standards of excellence that we live by in our department. I am not retiring per se, but I feel we have not lived up to my own standards and expectations this past year and I want to do what is best for our program and the University.
“More than anything I love my players, both past and present, and that is what I will miss the most about leaving. I will see this year’s team through the upcoming WNIT if we are fortunate to be selected.”