Dan Hughes will not coach the Storm during the 2020 WNBA season citing health concerns and the risk of potential severe illness if he were to test positive for COVID-19.
The 65-year-old coach, who led the Storm to a 2018 WNBA title, underwent surgery in May 2019 to remove a cancerous tumor in his digestive tract and missed the first nine games last year.
The decision to sit out the upcoming season followed a league assessment and consultation with Hughes’ primary physician, the Storm announced Monday.
Gary Kloppenburg, who first joined the Storm for the 2000-2002 seasons and returned in 2017, has been elevated from assistant to head coach for the 2020 season.
Kloppenberg guided the Storm to a 5-4 record as an interim coach last year. He also posted an 8-5 record as a interim coach with Seattle in 2017. The 67-year-old coach has a 30-55 record, including two seasons (2012-13) with the Tulsa Shock (20-48).
“I am saddened that I won’t be able to travel with the team as everyone knows how much love I have for this organization,” Hughes said in a statement released by the Storm. “I am thankful to be in good health and looking forward to supporting Coach Klopp and the staff and players in any way I can this season.”
“Klopp is a veteran coach in this league and within our organization,” said Alisha Valavanis, CEO and general manager. “His defensive background as well as his presence as a seasoned head coach position us well to compete for a championship.”
The Storm promoted assistant Noelle Quinn to associated head coach and will fill the staff with assistant Ryan Webb.
In 2018, Hughes ended a two-year retirement to guide the Storm to a league-best 26-8 record and a 6-2 mark in the postseason that included a 3-0 sweep in the WNBA Finals.
During his 18-year-career, Hughes has a 281-311 record and ranks third on the WNBA’s all-time wins list.
Hughes compiled a 13-12 record last year with the Storm, which finished 18-16 and was eliminated in the second round of the WNBA playoffs.
“While the Storm family is greatly disappointed that Dan will not be able to join the team this season, his health and family are the top priority,” Valavanis said. “We know he will continue to be an important voice of support for the team and staff while we compete this season.”