COLUMBIA — Missouri women’s basketball coach Cindy Stein will not be back for a 13th season.
Stein announced on Monday night she is stepping down at the end of the 2009-10 season. Stein has been the Tigers' head coach for the past 12 seasons and her contract is set to expire shortly after the end of the season, one which has seen Missouri lose 14 of its past 15 games.
“The University of Missouri and I have mutually agreed that it is in the best interest of the program to announce at this time, that I will not be returning as the head women's basketball coach past this season,” Stein said in an e-mail release. “I will actively coach up until our final game of the season, whenever that might be.”
The decision was anticipated by many surrounding the program. That didn’t make it any easier.
“It’s tough for all of us,” senior guard Amanda Hanneman said Monday night by phone. “She’s meant a lot to me. She’s been with me through thick and thin.”
The program has had its ups and downs during Stein’s tenure. In Stein’s 12 years, the Tigers have had only three winning seasons in Big 12 Conference play and made it to the NCAA Tournaments just three times. In 2000-01, Stein's third season with the program, the Tigers went 22-10 and made it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
But after making the NCAA tournament in 2005-06, the program has been in a state of decline. Since that season, the Tigers have not finished better than 10th in the Big 12. That might have led to Stein stepping down.
“Cindy has been an outstanding representative of the University of Missouri, and for Mizzou Athletics, over the years," said Director of Athletics Mike Alden. “She and her staff have worked hard and have produced achievements which will be remembered fondly. With that, we do accept Cindy's resignation, and believe this is the right time for us to go a different direction with our women's basketball program. We thank Cindy for her contributions and know that she'll continue to work hard through the final buzzer this year.”
Stein came to Missouri from Emporia State where she led the Hornets to the Division II national championship game in 1998 and was named the National Coach of the Year by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association. She is 184-175 at Missouri and 249-200 in 15 seasons as a head coach.
Stein will remain on the bench for the Tigers' final two regular season games, as well as the Big 12 championships in Kansas City. Missouri plays at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Texas and at 1 p.m. Sunday at home against Texas Tech. The Big 12 Championships begin on March 11 in Kansas City.
“It sucks. I feel bad for the younger girls,” Hanneman said. “But next year they’ll have a clean slate. It’s their chance for a fresh start.”
Stein was not available for comment Monday night, but plans to speak to the media at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at Mizzou Arena.
“I want to thank the University of Missouri and the Athletic Department for the opportunity to be the head coach for the last 12 years,” Stein said in the release. “It has been a privilege and an honor to coach at such a fine institution and to coach such an incredible group of young women.”