Women's basketball coach Lynne Agee announces retirement
GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG women's basketball coach Lynne Agee, who this season became just the 21st NCAA Division I coach to reach 600 career wins, announced her retirement Tuesday.
Agee, who just completed her 30th season at UNCG and her 33rd as a collegiate head coach, finishes her career with a 602-334 mark overall and a 556-311 record at the helm for the Spartans. Including seven years at the helm of her high school, Agee is closing the book on a 40-year coaching career.
"At this point, when it's time for me to step down, I have so many thanks to give," Agee said. "To all the players who have committed to us and been a part of this program over the years, to those coaches who have helped me, and to this university, from Bill Moran as the chancellor who hired me when I came in, and on through the chancellors to this point in time. UNCG gave me many wonderful opportunities to grow and develop as a professional, both as an administrator and coach, and I accepted those challenges and I'm forever grateful to the people that were involved in that.
"I never intended to stay 30 years," Agee said. "I honestly thought that I would try to move on up the ladder and applied at several places and interviewed at several places. But then we hit the point where the university decided to elevate our program. When it started, I was presented with incredible opportunities and challenges as a basketball coach to take my program from Division III immediately into Division II and that scholarship structure, and then within three years, we took our program into a Division I level. So that challenge to do that and to try and be successful in that scenario in a five-year period was just a challenge I couldn't refuse. I decided to stay and commit to it because I could create my own personal Division I program, with my name on it. I was not going somewhere else and taking over someone else's program. That was really special to me. To be able to do that successfully was just incredible."
During her storied career, Agee became the first women's basketball coach to lead a team to the NCAA tournament in all three divisions. She directed the Spartans to nine NCAA berths and a WNIT bid in 2002. UNCG won 13 regular-season conference titles and seven league tournament titles and won 20 games or more in 16 of Agee's seasons at the helm.
In 2004, Agee became the first active coach to be enshrined in UNCG's Athletics Hall of Fame. She was inducted into the Guilford County Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.
"Lynne Agee is synonymous with UNCG basketball," UNCG Director of Athletics Kim Record said. "It's difficult to find the words to describe what she's meant to this program. Her quiet strength and deep caring are only two of the many qualities which we will greatly miss. Her fingerprints will forever touch this basketball program from the strong foundation she laid – a true commitment to educating strong women through the sport of basketball. The UNCG family wishes Lynne the best as she embarks on her next adventure. She will always be a Spartan."
Agee came to UNCG in 1981 and made an immediate mark, inheriting a program that went 9-14 the year before and directing the Spartans to a 25-3 record and a spot in the inaugural NCAA Division III national title game. UNCG – which spent most of that season ranked No. 2 nationally – fell 67-66 in overtime to No. 1 Elizabethtown (Pa.), but the tone had been set for what would be an incredible 30 years in Greensboro. The 1981-82 squad would eventually be enshrined in UNCG's Athletics Hall of Fame.
Agee was named the Dixie Conference Coach of the Year after a 12-0 league mark in her first season at UNCG and would go on to win the award three more times, taking the honor in 1986, 1987 and 1988. The Spartans lost just one Dixie Conference game in those three years, going a combined 41-1 and earning DIII NCAA bids each year. The 1986-87 team set a school record for wins with a 27-3 ledger and won a UNCG-record 24 straight games. The Spartans returned to the Final Four in 1988, falling in the semifinals before winning the consolation game.
When UNCG's administration made the decision to elevate from Division III to Division I in a matter of just five years, Agee was eager to take on the challenge. With the Spartans playing as an independent in their brief stay in Division II, Agee led UNCG to a 21-9 mark and an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament in 1990-91.
Two years later, the Spartans were competing as members of the Division I Big South Conference. Agee's squads dominated that league, winning regular-season titles in all five seasons in the conference and posting a 66-12 mark in league play. Agee was named the Big South Coach of the Year 1993, her first season in the league.
UNCG departed the Big South for the Southern Conference in 1997-98, and Agee was again up to the task, leading the Spartans to a 21-9 overall record and a second-place finish in the league standings. At the end of that season, Agee made history, coaching UNCG to a win over top-seeded Georgia Southern in the SoCon Championship title game. With a tournament title – and the ensuing automatic NCAA berth – in her first year in the league, Agee became the first women's basketball coach to lead a team to the NCAA tournament in all three divisions.
The Spartans won the regular-season title the following season, with Agee picking up SoCon Coach of the Year honors. She would take that distinction again when UNCG won the regular-season championship in 2001-02. UNCG would go on to make an appearance in the WNIT after falling in the SoCon Championship title game that season.
"Coach Agee has been a bedrock of our athletics program for three decades," UNCG Chancellor Linda Brady said. "In addition to all the success and the honors, she has been an impressive teacher, on and off the court. Indeed, she began her career as a high school teacher and coach before joining the college ranks. You could always see she enjoyed teaching her players and they loved learning from her. What she has taught those hundreds of Spartan student-athletes – about basketball and much more – has been a special part of their education here at UNCG."
Agee began her coaching career at William Fleming High School, her alma mater. In seven years there, she turned in a 94-16 record and led the team to seven league titles, four district titles and one regional championship. Also a standout student-athlete during her high school career, Agee was inducted into William Fleming's inaugural hall of fame class in September 2010.
Agee made the jump to the collegiate level after her tenure at William Fleming, going 46-23 in three seasons as coach at Roanoke College. The Lady Maroons went 21-6 in her final season there, capturing the Virginia Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women Division III state title and earning a spot in the AIAW national playoffs.
During her tenure at UNCG, Agee mentored six All-Americans, including Carol Peschel, who followed Agee from Roanoke College. Peschel, who would become the Spartans' first All-American, would go on to serve as an assistant coach under Agee for 27 years. She was Agee's associate head coach for the last 14 years.
"I have to thank Carol and point out that she has been as much a part of this as I have," Agee said. "She has been the one that's gone unnoticed. She has assumed that role. I have many thanks to her for her devotion to the program as a player, as an assistant coach and certainly as an associate head coach. We wouldn't be where we are and we wouldn't have been as successful had we not been a team working on this."
Agee wore several hats at UNCG. In addition to coaching the women's basketball team, Agee was the head coach for both the women's and men's tennis teams early in her UNCG career, leading the 1983 women's tennis team to an NCAA Division III runner-up finish. That team is also enshrined in UNCG's Athletics Hall of Fame.
An original member of the NCAA Women's Basketball Rules Committee, Agee served as a member of the NCAA Division I East Region Selection Committee for three years. She also served as a member of the Committee on Basketball Issues for the Women's Basketball Coaches Association. In addition, Agee was an associate athletic director at UNCG beginning in 1984 and later served as senior woman administrator before returning to coaching exclusively in 1999. She was a part of the athletic administration during the university's transition to Division I.
Agee's focus at UNCG wasn't just excellence on the court, as her teams always performed well in the classroom, as well. In fact, prior to this season, UNCG was honored with a Public Recognition Award by the NCAA for historically perfect Academic Progress Report (APR) scores, which celebrates having a perfect score of 1,000 over a four-year academic span (2005-09). Agee's squads earned that distinction three years running, meaning UNCG posted perfect APR scores in six straight seasons.
"Lynne is leaving our program in excellent shape, so I anticipate significant interest in this position," Record said. "We want to compete for conference championships and participate in NCAA tournaments. UNCG is an outstanding opportunity for the right person."
- UNCG -