As the only coach in NCAA Division III history to win five national championships, including a stretch of four-straight crowns from 1998-01, and the leader of a program that owns the second-longest winning streak in NCAA women's basketball history at 81 games, Washington University head coach Nancy Fahey ranks as one of the most talented coaches in college basketball today.
Fahey reached her pinnacle as a coach in 2012, becoming the first NCAA Division III representative to be inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn.
In 27 seasons as Washington University’s head coach, Fahey has guided the Bears to an NCAA Division III-best five national championships. She has also led Washington U. to a Division III-record 10 Final Four appearances. Fahey has posted a 639-118 (.844 winning percentage), and became the fastest coach in NCAA women’s basketball history to reach 600 wins, doing so in her 706th game during the 2011-12 season.
Fahey, who ranks fifth among all active NCAA coaches with an .844 career winning percentage, led her troops to the first basketball national championship in school history with a 28-2 season in 1997-98, defeating the University of Southern Maine, 77-69, on the Huskies' home floor. She topped that in 1998-99 by leading her club to a 30-0 season --- the first undefeated season in school history --- and a second-consecutive national title with a 77-69 win over the College of St. Benedict (Minn.).
Fahey and her team then made history when the 1999-2000 club became the second team in NCAA basketball history --- any division, men or women --- to post back-to-back undefeated national championship seasons. Along the way to a second-straight 30-0 season, one that ended with a 79-33 win over Southern Maine in the national championship game, the Bears finished the season with the NCAA women's all-divisions record for consecutive victories with 68-straight wins.
The Bears established themselves as one of the greatest teams in college basketball history by winning the school's fourth-consecutive national championship in 2000-01. WU finished 28-2, defeating Messiah in the national championship tilt, 67-45. The Bears became just the second women's basketball team, and the third in NCAA history, men's or women's, to win four straight national titles. WU also saw its NCAA women's record winning streak stretch to 81 games before coming to an end in midseason.
Fahey further bolstered her unrivaled resume by winning her fifth national championship in 2010. She guided Washington U. to a 29-2 overall record and a 65-59 triumph over Hope College in the national championship game. Fahey's Bears also captured the 2010 University Athletic Association (UAA) Championship, and she earned UAA, D3hoops.com and DIII News National Coach of the Year honors.
Since Fahey's arrival in 1986, the Bears have enjoyed their finest 27 seasons. In each of the past 26 years, the Red and Green have won at least 19 games -- including a school-record 30 victories in 1998-99 and 1999-2000. The Bears have made 25 NCAA Division III Tournament appearances and won 19 UAA titles under Fahey. Her 1990-91, 1993-94, 2006-07, 2008-09 and 2010-11 squads each advanced to the Final Four, along with her national championship teams from 1998-2001 and 2010. WU finished fourth in 1991 and placed second in 1994, 2007, 2009 and 2011.
In 2006-07, the Red and Green made their sixth appearance in the national championship game, a feat Fahey and her team accomplished once again in 2008-09 and 2010-11, making it three second-place finishes over a span of five seasons. Fahey has led the Bears to a Division III record 10 Final Four appearances, including a stretch of four straight from 1998-01 and four out of five from 2007-11 (2007, 2009-11).
Fahey came to Washington U. from Johnsburg High School in McHenry, Ill., where she guided the Skyhawks to two regional championships, a sectional final, two 20-win seasons and was named the coach-of-the-year in 1986 by the Northwest Herald. As a player, Fahey was a four-year letterwinner at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She started two years at point guard for the Badgers, and served as a captain her senior season. Fahey graduated with honors from Wisconsin in 1981.