Washington cut ties with women’s basketball coach Jody Wynn, who was unable to gain much traction within the Pac-12 or come close to replicating the success of her predecessor during a turbulent four-year tenure.
Eleven days after the Huskies finished the season 7-14, including 11th in the Pac-12 at 3-13, UW announced her termination Monday.
“I want to thank Jody for her contributions to the program the last four years,” UW athletic director Jen Cohen said in a statement. “These decisions are extremely difficult, but we felt it was in the best interest of our current and future Huskies to make a leadership change and move in a new direction with our women’s basketball program.
“We wish her and her family the best moving forward.”
Wynn’s coaching staff included her husband Derek, an associate coach, and assistants Paul Reed and Tamara McDonald, who was hired last year.
Erin O’Connell, UW’s deputy athletic director and senior woman administrator, will lead a national search for the next women’s basketball coach, the school announced.
Wynn posted a 38-75 record — 11-58 in the Pac-12 — at UW and the Huskies never finished above .500 in the win-loss column or higher than ninth in the conference standings.
Wynn’s .336 winning percentage is the lowest in school history and a notable drop-off compared to her predecessor, Mike Neighbors, who went 98-41 (. 705) and led UW to three NCAA tournament appearances during his four-year tenure.
On April 14, 2017, the Huskies hired Wynn as its 11th women’s basketball coach, which was somewhat an unexpected hire considering she spent the previous eight years at Long Beach State where she compiled a 137-119 record.
At the time, Wynn agreed to a six-year, $1.95 million deal that paid her a $300,000 base salary the first two years before a $25,008 raise in Year 3 and a $24,996 raise in Year 5.
Wynn, who earned $325,008 this season, had two years remaining on her contract.
After a rocky first season in which Washington finished 7-23 and 1-17 Pac-12, the Huskies made minimal improvements the next two seasons.
During the 2018-19 season, UW was 11-21, which included a memorable run in the Pac-12 tournament. The No. 11-seeded Huskies upset No. 6-seed Utah 64-54 in the first round before knocking off No. 3 Oregon State 68-67 to reach the semifinals for just the third time in program history.
Led by senior Amber Melgoza, who ranks eighth on UW’s career scoring list, the Huskies posted a 13-17 mark and 5-13 Pac-12 record in 2019-20, which proved to be the highlight of Wynn’s tenure.
This season, Washington started 3-0 and was 4-5 before two players tested positive for COVID-19 in January, which forced a 10-day quarantine and suspended the program.
When asked to evaluate the women’s program during a February interview with The Seattle Times, Cohen expressed optimism and said she would do a “deep dive (after the season) … into all factors of the program.”
“The women, we had our first home game in like 45 days last week (due to a COVID-19 outbreak),” she said. “They had big gaps in their schedule. They had momentum in the beginning and then they kind of lost all of that.”
Following an extended break, Washington failed to regain momentum and went 2-8 during its final 10 regular-season games.
The Huskies also endured a rash of injuries to starters Tameiya Sadler and Khayla Rooks while freshman guard Jayda Noble, who started eight of the first 11 games, sat out the rest of the season due to personal reasons. In addition, key returner Missy Peterson tore her ACL shortly before the season started.
Washington drew the No. 11 seed in the Pac-12 tournament and upset No. 6 Colorado 68-54 in the first round before losing 58-46 to No. 3 UCLA in the quarterfinals.
Following the defeat, Wynn expressed a desire to play in the 32-team WNIT.
“They want to play,” Wynn said. “They love each other. They enjoy coming to practice. They enjoy working. They want to keep playing for as long as they can play. So, I’ll rock with those women any day.”
Admittedly, Wynn struggled to make inroads on the recruiting front locally, however the Huskies assembled a five-player 2020 class (A.J. Marotte, Marisa Davis, Avery VanSickle, Jess Finney and Olivia Pollerd) that’s ranked 16th nationally by ESPNW. (Finney enrolled in January and averaged 1.2 points in 14 games.)
Four of Washington’s incoming recruits are ranked among ESPN’s top-100 list and it’s UW’s highest-ranked class since 2013 when it was 11th in the ESPNW ranking.
“It’s taken longer than we’d like to really get going and bring in the girls that cannot only compete with but match the talent that you see on these other teams in the Pac-12, which we all know is the best conference in the country,” Wynn said. “The future is bright at UW. I honestly believe that.”