When Jody Wynn visited with UW athletic director Jen Cohen and senior associate athletic director Shondell Reed in Seattle it alleviated her concerns and reaffirmed her beliefs about Washington.
Admittedly, Jody Wynn was somewhat cautious and not at all eager to leave the budding powerhouse she created at Long Beach State when a Washington Huskies official called to gauge her interest in becoming the next UW women’s basketball coach.
She had concerns about the fit.
During her eight years with the 49ers, Wynn installed a defense-first philosophy that’s the antithesis to the high-scoring schemes the Huskies employed recently during their most successful postseason stretch in program history.
1 Margin of defeat to Oregon State in NCAA tournament for Long Beach State.
3 Straight seasons of at least 20 wins at Long Beach State.
47 Number of wins she coached the past two seasons.
The 49ers scored fewer than 56 points in each of their last two games last season. Conversely, former UW star Kelsey Plum tallied 57 points by herself in a record-setting performance in February.
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No one averaged more than 12 points for Long Beach State in 2016-17. The team scored 66.1 points per game – 19 points fewer than Washington, which ranked sixth nationally.
So Wynn had a few questions about compatibility when the Huskies invited her and husband Derek to Seattle for a job interview.
“Are you sure you want us to come up?” Wynn recalled her reaction during a news conference Monday in which she was introduced as the program’s 11th head coach.
“We’re kind of square,” she said while recounting her initial conversation with Shondell Reed, UW’s senior associate athletic director. “We’re not about a lot of flash. We didn’t know. From an outsider looking in, it’s so prestigious that you just don’t know if you fit all the time.”
Then Wynn visited with UW athletic director Jen Cohen and Reed in Seattle, which alleviated her concerns and reaffirmed her beliefs about Washington.
“When we came up and met, we just instantly knew that this is different. That this is special,” Wynn said. “We worked hard for a new opportunity and why not in such a wonderful place like Washington?
“It’s kind of surreal. It happened rather quickly and I’m just so thankful and fortunate all in one.”
Wynn agreed to a six-year, $2.6 million deal that’ll pay her a $400,000 base salary the first two years before a $25,000 raise in Year 3 and Year 5.
The Jody Wynn file
Age: 43 (Feb. 21, 1974).
Hometown: Brea, Calif.
Coaching experience: Head coach, Long Beach State (2009-17), 137-119 record; USC assistant (2004-09), Pepperdine assistant (1997-2004).
Collegiate career: USC guard (1993-96). Won 1994 Pac-10 regular-season title. Made three NCAA tournament appearances. Compiled 79-35 record.
Personal: Married Derek on May 20, 2000. Children: Daughters Jada, 12, and Kaeli, 9.
Her predecessor Mike Neighbors earned $367,678 last season. He left for Arkansas last month, which forced him to pay UW a $1 million buyout.
“It was really important that we found somebody with West Coast ties and that we knew wanted to be here,” Cohen said. “Stability in this program has been a challenge. Our student-athletes deserve better. Our future student-athletes and our fans deserve to have a coach that really wants to build something special here.
“It was a factor for sure. The fact that I love about her, is that she was totally happy where she was. She wasn’t running from anything. It was a really hard decision for her, which just made me love and respect her more.”
Wynn, who won at least 20 games during her final three seasons at Long Beach, is cognizant that the previous two UW coaches (Neighbors and Ohio State’s Kevin McGuff) revitalized a once-dormant program before leaving the Huskies to return home and coach.
The 43-year-old Brea, Calif. native, who starred at USC (1993-96), said she hopes for a long career at Washington.
“What I told Jen was that Derek and I wouldn’t move our family here if we weren’t interested in being a part of Washington and this community,” Wynn said. “It’s not a one-person decision. It was a family decision. We’re in for the long haul.”
Jody and Derek have coached together for 18 years, and they celebrate their 17-year wedding anniversary in a couple of weeks. They have two daughters: Jada, a 12-year-old seventh-grader, and Kaeli, a 9-year-old third-grader.
Derek joins Wynn’s staff at Washington along with Michelle Augustavo, a former UW two-time captain, and Paul Reed. Each coached at Long Beach State last season. No former UW assistant was retained.
“She was a big part of teaching us about the culture here and the university and all that it offers,” Wynn said about Augustavo. “It’s great to be able to bring her home.”
Wynn started her coaching career as an assistant at Pepperdine in 1996-97. She was the head of scouting and recruiting coordinator at USC before taking over at Long Beach State in 2009.
She had three losing seasons to start her LBSU tenure before finishing .500 in 2012-13, followed by four winning seasons.
Wynn compiled a 137-119 record, which included a 23-11 mark last season and the 49ers’ first trip to the NCAA tournament since 1992. They lost 56-55 to No. 2 seed Oregon State in the opener.
With Husky team members, former UW star Chantel Osahor and newly hired Mike Hopkins, the UW men’s basketball coach, in attendance Monday, Wynn promised to implement a style in which Washington plays with “toughness, heart and hustle.”
She used the word “grit” or a variation at least a dozen times and managed a near-flawless first impression with the exception of a flub in which she referred to UW as Long Beach State.
“There are some big shoes to fill, but it’s not going to be one, it’s going to be all,” said Wynn, who takes over a team that’s had three NCAA tournament appearances, two trips to the Sweet 16 and UW’s first ever Final Four in 2015-2016. The Huskies were 98-41 during the past four years with Neighbors.
“We understand what’s happened here the last three years,” Wynn said. “We’re very well aware of that. We’re excited for the new opportunity for the young women that are here and for the future recruits that will come to Long … er, to … I knew I was going to do that.
“See, I’m not perfect. But we are excited for the future of the program.”