HANOVER, N.H. — Chris Wielgus announced her resignation today after 28 seasons as the head coach of women’s basketball at Dartmouth College. In her two tenures with the Big Green, she posted an overall record of 393-342 (.535), making her the winningest basketball coach in Dartmouth history, for men or women.
Wielgus has led her teams to particularly great success in the Ivy League. During her historic career as head coach, she boasts a 227-122 (.650) record against Ivy opponents. Her teams are responsible for 12 of Dartmouth’s 17 Ivy League championships. Under her leadership, the Big Green has earned nine postseason appearances, and produced five players that were named the Ivy League Player of the Year a total of seven times. She also coached eight Ivy League Rookies of the Year and 81 All-Ivy selections with 28 earning first-team designation.
“Chris holds a singular place in the history of Dartmouth athletics,” said Dartmouth Athletics Director Harry Sheehy. “We are deeply indebted to her for the profound impact she has had on many generations of student-athletes and the Dartmouth community as a whole.”
Wielgus arrived on campus before the 1976-77 season and quickly built a power in the Ivy League, winning four consecutive conference crowns from 1980-83 and earning the first-ever Ivy League bid to the NCAA Tournament in 1983. She left after the 1983-84 campaign, only to return nine years later and immediately pick up where she left off, winning the league title in both 1993-94 and ’94-95 with the latter producing another appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Big Green nearly pulled off an incredible upset in the first round as a 14 seed, leading Virginia with 6:28 left before succumbing, 71-68.
Wielgus and Dartmouth finished atop the Ivy League in consecutive years (1998-99, ’99-2000) to earn bids to the NCAA Tournament each time, giving the defending national champion Purdue Boilermakers a terrific scare in the first round of 2000 tournament. Although the 13th-seeded Big Green fell behind by 20 in the first half, they stormed back after halftime to take a one-point lead with 4:42 remaining on the clock. The score was tied at 66 with 2:18 left, but Purdue scored the final four points to stave off the upset.
For five straight seasons (2004-05 through 2008-09), Wielgus led Dartmouth to the postseason while earning four conference crowns along the way. In the first of those seasons, the Big Green tied for the top spot with Harvard and defeated the Crimson in a playoff, 75-61, to advance to the NCAA Tournament.
The following year, there was a three-way tie atop the standings between Dartmouth, Princeton and Brown, and the Green defeated both in the playoffs to once again garner the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. As a 14 seed, the Big Green faced Rutgers and fought the Scarlet Knights to the bitter end, missing a three-pointer in the final minute that would have tied the score. Dartmouth lost by five, 63-58, and finished the season with a 23-7 record, its best under Wielgus.
The Big Green played in the Women’s Postseason NIT in both 2006-07 and ’07-08 before returning to the NCAA Tournament after winning the league title outright with a 13-1 mark in 2008-09.
Between her two stints in Hanover, Wielgus spent time as the training camp coordinator for the U.S. women’s basketball team that won gold medals at the 1986 Goodwill Games and the 1986 World Championships. She also directed the Developmental Basketball Program in Hilton Head, S.C., and the All-Star Basketball Camps in Baton Rouge, La. and Jacksonville, Fla. Wielgus got back into the college ranks as the head coach at Fordham for two seasons, compiling a 37-21 record with a Patriot League championship to her credit. In 30 seasons as a collegiate head basketball coach, she owns a record of 430-363.
A member of the New England Basketball Hall of Fame and the Athletics Hall of Fame at Springfield College — from where she graduated in 1974 — Wielgus is also an inductee in Dartmouth’s Wearers of the Green.