By Carmine Gerrity-Gemei
Mike Strong, legendary head coach of the women’s basketball team, announced his retirement Wednesday citing health concerns.
Strong is the winningest coach in Division III women’s basketball history and has an overall record of 815-182 (.817) in his 34 seasons as head coach at The University.
Coach Strong’s retirement is effective Friday, and assistant coach Deanna Klingman has been named interim head coach by Toby Lovecchio, University director of athletics.
“I didn’t know if I had enough energy for this season,” Strong said. “This situation is not life-threatening, but life altering.”
Strong said his decision may be premature, but he wanted to make the decision to step down now rather than have it be a concern during the season.
His teams have made eight Final Four appearances including The University’s first and only NCAA Division III championship in 1985.
That 1985 championship team was led by the national player of the year, now interim head coach, Klingman.
Strong has also led the Lady Royals to 26 NCAA tournament appearances and 19 conference championships including a Landmark Conference Championship last season.
“I am grateful to have been able to spend 40 plus years at The University,” Strong said. “I wanted to go out on a high note, not because something was wrong.”
Coach Strong said the timing of his retirement may seem off to some people, but others will understand.
“I wanted to coach this year, next year and the next few years,” Strong said. “Health kind of caught up with me.”