Iowa women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder announces retirement after 24 seasons

Iowa women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder announced her retirement after coaching the Hawkeyes for 24 seasons.

The unexpected announcement came Monday. Bluder said she contemplated her future after reviewing the past season with the team. She ultimately decided to step down from her position, and she informed school leadership of her decision. Longtime assistant coach Jan Jensen will take over as the Hawkeyes next head coach, the school also announced on Monday.

“It has been the honor of my career to be a part of the Iowa Hawkeye family, and to lead a women’s basketball program filled with so many talented and remarkable young women, who have gone on to do great things in their careers and, more importantly, in their lives,” Bluder said in a statement. “There is never an ideal time to retire and I am sure this fall that I will miss the games, the practices, the road trips, the atmosphere, the tremendous fans and, most importantly, the players. But my belief in the foundation of this program, knowing that success is now an unrelenting component of women’s basketball at the University of Iowa gives me comfort as I transition to become the program’s biggest champion.

“I want to thank each and every young woman who believed in our program and in our values for nearly a quarter of a century, and who proudly wore the Black & Gold.”

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Bluder first became a head coach at NAIA-school St. Ambrose University in 1984, spending six seasons at the Davenport, Iowa school before she took the head coaching job at Drake. After 10 seasons with the Bulldogs, Bluder became the Iowa head coach in 2000.

Under Bluder, the Hawkeyes became a consistent NCAA Tournament team with 18 appearances as she became the winningest coach in team history.

Despite her successful decades-long tenure with Iowa, Bluder is notable for being the head coach of Caitlin Clark during her time with the Hawkeyes. With Clark as her star player, Iowa advanced to its first Final Four since 1993 and first ever national championship game in 2023. This past season, Iowa advanced to the national championship game for the second consecutive year, the first team in Big Ten history go back-to-back.

“Simply no one better at building a team… Thank you for believing in me more than anyone,” Clark posted on social media. “Enjoy retirement, coach. Very much deserved.”

Bluder finishes her career at Iowa with a 528-254 record and an 884-396 career record in college coaching. Bluder said she hopes she can “be an asset to our basketball program and this athletics department in any way” with her retirement.

Iowa names Jan Jensen next women’s basketball head coach

Following the announcement of Lisa Bluder’s retirement, associate head coach Jan Jensen was given the head coaching reins of Iowa women’s basketball.

Jensen has been an assistant under Bluder for 24 years at Iowa – 20 as associate head coach – and, prior to that, for eight years at Drake. She becomes the Hawkeyes’ sixth head coach.

“It is bittersweet news for all of us who love the University of Iowa and who have incredible admiration and respect for what Coach Bluder has accomplished and for how she did it,” Jensen said in a statement. “Lisa has left an indelible mark on this program, touched countless lives, and brought joy to all who know and love the Hawkeyes.

“Words can’t appropriately express the gratitude I share with so many for the impact she has made on the game of women’s basketball and the University of Iowa. While we are saddened that she will no longer lead our young women on the court, we are thankful for what she has given to all of us and are comforted knowing she will continue to be our biggest champion and fan.”

Caitlin Clark shared her enthusiam for Jensen’s promotion, applauding the move on social media.

“The only option there ever was!!! You deserve this more than anyone,” Clark wrote. “Can’t wait to watch you lead this program!!!”

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