After playing with the Lynx of the WNBA for five seasons (2018-2023), Whalen took over as coach and led them to a 71-76 record overall and a 32-58 mark in the Big Ten. Under Whalen, the Gophers made the WNIT instead of the NCAA tournament.
With Wednesday’s 72-67 loss against Penn State in the first round of the Big Ten tournament in Minneapolis, Minnesota’s season concluded with a record of 11-19 (4-14 Big Ten).
Thursday afternoon, athletic director Mark Coyle and Whalen were supposed to have a press conference. But, Whalen did not show up. Coyle said she was at a staff meeting, but Whalen subsequently tweeted that she was too distraught to talk to the press.
In a tweet, Whalen informed the local media that he would be “coming” and “showing up” at a news conference soon. I apologise sincerely for missing today’s press conference; I had an emotional breakdown in the elevator on the way here. I, too, am a member of the human race.
“Furthermore, I have consistently shown up every day while playing for the U, playing for the Lynx, and coaching at the U. Total the years. If this hasn’t been helpful, I apologise. You may count on me to be there whenever the moment is appropriate.
After the 2023-24 season, Whalen, now 40, negotiated a contract extension that would keep her in the NHL. The university said that she will remain on staff as a special assistant to Mark Coyle until April 12, 2025.
In a statement, Whalen expressed gratitude to Mark and the University for allowing him to take charge of the programme five years ago. “That was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Thank you to my assistant coaches and staff for all of their hard work over the past five years with our student-athletes.
Coyle told the press that the split was amicable, but Whalen didn’t hint at a possible exit at Wednesday’s postgame news conference.
“We simply felt like now is the perfect moment for her to stand down,” Coyle said to the press. She’s still going to be a part of our team. So many people in these lobbies and corridors adore her. Indeed, she has achieved legendary status. She has a place of honour on Minnesota’s own Mount Rushmore.
Whalen, a native of Hutchinson, Minnesota, was a standout guard for the University of Minnesota teams from 2000 through 2004, helping guide the Lady Gophers to the national championship game. She played with the Connecticut Sun for six years after being selected fourth overall in the WNBA draught in 2004. At that time, the Sun advanced to the WNBA Finals twice. After being sent back to her home state, Whalen spent the next nine years playing for the Minnesota Lynx and helped them to four WNBA championships. Before her career was over, she was averaging 11.5 points and 4.9 assists a contest.
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