The West Virginia women’s basketball team will be under the direction of a new coach next season.
Less than a day after WVU’s 2022-23 season came to a close with a 75-62 loss to Arizona in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday at XFINITY Center in College Park, Maryland, Minnesota announced it has hired Plitzuweit as its next coach on Saturday.
“I am extremely excited,” Plitzuweit said in a news release. “It is a tremendous honor to be named head coach at Minnesota, and I want to thank President Joan Gabel, Mark Coyle, Julie Manning, Joi Thomas and the entire search committee for this opportunity.
“This is a homecoming of sorts, and Minnesota is a program that I am very familiar with from my previous time in the surrounding area and in the Big Ten. I am looking forward to getting back to the area and to meet the team, alumni and fans. I am also looking forward to reconnecting with local high school and club coaches. I can’t wait to get to work.”
This season was Plitzuweit’s only at WVU. The Mountaineers went 19-12, finished tied for fourth in the Big 12 regular-season standings and earned a No. 10 seed for the NCAA Tournament by rallying to win five of their final seven regular-season games.
The 19 wins were the most in program history by a first-year coach, and Plitzuweit became the first coach to lead the Mountaineers to the NCAA Tournament in their first year.
The West Bend, Wisconsin, native replaced Mike Carey, who retired following the 2021-22 season after 21 years.
“Earlier today I met with coach Plitzuweit, and she informed me she will be departing our basketball program to pursue an opportunity with the University of Minnesota,” WVU athletic director Wren Baker said Saturday in a statement.
“This move allows her to be closer to her home and her family, and we understand and respect that.
“I want to thank coach Plitzuweit for the positive impact she made on our women’s basketball program this year. I also want to thank our women’s basketball student-athletes for the pride they have and the effort they give in competing for West Virginia University. Our student-athletes deserve the best, and we will immediately begin a national search for our next head coach. We have a proud tradition, and our program is well positioned for the future. I am confident we will identify an outstanding leader to build on our success and take WVU women’s basketball to even greater heights.”
Plitzuweit’s lone season at WVU started with a blowout win over USC Upstate, and the Mountaineers continued with a 9-2 record in nonconference play, including a gritty, come-from-behind win over Georgia in West Palm Beach, Florida, to highlight the slate.
Big 12 play started with a pair of blowout losses, but WVU came together to finish 10-8 in league play. That included sweeps of Kansas State, TCU and Baylor, and splits with Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Kansas and Iowa State.
The Mountaineers lost to Oklahoma State on a buzzer-beater in the Big 12 quarterfinals, but two days later they would play in the Big Dance, where they fell to Arizona on Friday.
“This is our story before the game — I’m not a very good golfer, right?” Plitzuweit said after the loss to the Wildcats. “When golf balls were invented, they were smooth. There weren’t dents or dimples in them. As soon as they’d get hit by a golf club, they realized the more dents they had in the golf ball, the farther it would go.
“That was kind of like us during the course of our time. In growing, there was a lot of adversity, a lot of learning. When there’s a transition, it’s challenging. Our young ladies had to learn a new system, a new style, all those types of thing. We weren’t as successful as we wanted to be early on. We continued to battle, grow, put some dents in the golf ball, if you will. It kept going further. When we finished, I thought our young ladies really battled and continued to get better as the season wore on.”
Plitzuweit came to WVU from South Dakota, where she coached from 2016-22 and recorded a 158-36 record over six seasons. She was a three-time Summit League coach of the Year and led the Coyotes to three regular-season and three conference tournament titles. South Dakota made four NCAA Tournament appearances under Plitzuweit, including a run to the Sweet 16 last year before coming to WVU.
Before South Dakota, Plitzuweit was the coach at Northern Kentucky from 2012-16, an assistant coach at Michigan from 2007-12 and the coach at Division II Grand Valley State from 2002-07. She led the Lakers to a national title in 2006 and was named the NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year. She started her career at Michigan Tech — where she played — and also coached at Wisconsin and at Green Bay.
She brings a 356-141 record to Minnesota, where she will become the program’s 13th coach. Her teams have finished tied for fifth or higher in regular-season conference play in all 16 seasons she’s been a coach, and have finished in the three of the league standings 11 times.
“I am excited to welcome Dawn, her husband Jay and their family to Minnesota,” Minnesota athletic director Mark Coyle said in a news release. “Dawn is a process-driven coach and has coached winning teams at every step of her career. She has recruited Minnesota and has consistently produced teams that compete for championships. Dawn has Big Ten coaching experience and knows how competitive and strong the conference is. I know she is excited to get back to the area and build her program.”