GRAND FORKS, N.D. - Gene Roebuck, one of the greatest women's college basketball coaches of all-time, has announced that this will be his final season as head coach at the University of North Dakota.
Roebuck, a native of Velva, N.D., transformed UND into one of the powerhouse programs of NCAA Division II and has taken his program through a successful transition to Division I status.
"I am proud to have represented this University with pride and respect," said Roebuck. "After five years of the transition, the program is going in the right direction. The tradition of women's basketball at UND will go on. It's time for me to move on. Until that time, I will coach as hard as I always have. Thank you University of North Dakota for 25 great years."
He enters Saturday's home game against Utah Valley with a record of 616-143 at UND. His overall collegiate coaching record is 703-157, an amazing winning percentage of .817.
"Gene has enjoyed a tremendous career here, from winning national championships to the professional accomplishments of his student-athletes after they have graduated from UND," said UND Athletics Director Brian Faison. "His positive impact on this institution, his student-athletes and the state of North Dakota has been nothing short of incredible."
Roebuck entered the 2011-12 season as the NCAA's 11th winningest active coach with a winning percentage of .819 and ranked 12th as the winningest NCAA women's basketball coach of all-time. The NCAA list for winningest active coaches includes a minimum of five years as head coach while the winningest all-time list includes a minimum of 10 years as a head coach.
The top 15 winningest active and all-time winningest coaches list includes active coaches Geno Auriemma of Connecticut, Pat Summitt of Tennessee and Tara VanDerveer of Stanford.
Roebuck was also the third fastest coach in NCAA history to win 600 games, which he accomplished with a 104-54 win at home over Houston Baptist on January 29, 2011.
The highlight of Roebuck's career at UND was winning three consecutive national NCAA Division II women's college basketball championships in 1997, 1998 and 1999.
Roebuck's impact on the UND program was immediate.
In 1986-87 the team went 7-20. The following season, in Roebuck's first season as head coach, UND went 22-6 and advanced to the NCAA regionals.
In his third season the team won the North Central Conference, won the NCAA Central Region Tournament and advanced to national quarterfinals.
In his 10th season at UND, Roebuck and his team claimed the ultimate prize, winning the 1996-97 national championship. UND beat rival North Dakota State on its home floor to win the regional title and followed that up by winning the national championship at home, sweeping the three-game Elite Eight Tournament by an average margin of victory of over 24 points per game.
He didn't stop there, claiming the national title the next two years by posting identical 31-1 records.
During that three-year run, Roebuck's teams posted an incredible 90-6 mark including a 49-5 mark in North Central Conference play and a 48-1 record at home.
He nearly captured a fourth national championship in 2000-01, falling to Cal Poly Pomona in overtime in the national championship game.
Before Roebuck was hired at UND in June of 1987, the school had made just two NCAA Division II tournament appearances and had lost in the first round both times.
During Roebuck's 25-year career, his teams made 20 NCAA Tournament appearances in 21 years as an NCAA Division II institution, including 19 years in-a-row. In those 20 NCAA Tournament appearances, Roebuck's teams posted a record of 35-16, including a 15-game NCAA Tournament winning streak.
In the 38-year history of UND women's college basketball, 28 players have scored 1,000 or more points, and 23 of those players were members of Gene Roebuck coached teams. Of the 23 Roebuck coached players to reach the 1,000-point plateau, 19 of those were from North Dakota or Minnesota.
In addition to the three national championships and 20 NCAA Division II Tournament appearances, Roebuck's teams won seven NCAA regional titles and 12 conference championships, including the first as an NCAA Division I institution when UND captured the 2009-10 Great West Conference regular season championship.
Roebuck's players earned Women's Basketball Coaches Association Player of the Year four times (Sheri Kleinsasser, Jenny Crouse - twice, Theresa LeCuyer) and conference Player of the Year nine times. In addition, 19 players have been named All-America, 52 players were named All-North Central Conference, and four have been named All-Great West Conference.
Four of Roebuck's players earned academic All-American honors (Jenny Walter, Jaime Pudenz, Tracey Pudenz, Jenny Boll), three received NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships (Jenny Walter, Tiffany Pudenz, Jamie Pudenz) and his players earned academic all-conference honors 35 times.
Roebuck's teams have continued to achieve academic success since moving to Division I. In each of the last three years, UND has been named to the WBCA Academic Top 25 Team Honor Roll. The 2008-09 team ranked second in the nation with a 3.58 team grade point average.
Roebuck has been named conference Coach of the Year 10 times, and when UND made the transition from NCAA Division II to NCAA Division I after the 2007-08 season, he finished as the winningest coach in NCAA Division II basketball history with a winning percentage of .857.
During his tenure, UND was recognized by the WBCA for having the Best Fans, Best Facility, Best Tradition, Best Community Support and Best Pep Band in Division II.
Roebuck's athletic success began at Velva (N.D.) High School, where he earned 12 letters in football, basketball and baseball. He went on to play both baseball and basketball at Mayville State (N.D.) and earned a degree in physical education and business education in 1969. While at MSU, Roebuck was a four-year letterwinner and three-year starter in basketball. He also excelled in baseball, twice earning all-conference honors and being named to the NAIA District 12 team once. In the fall of 2000, he was inducted into the Mayville State Hall of Fame.
In 1984, Roebuck was hired as the women's basketball and baseball coach at UND-Lake Region College. In addition to leading the women's basketball team to a three-year mark of 87-14, he also guided the Royal baseball team to 1985, 1986 and 1987 North Dakota state baseball championships.
Roebuck also enjoyed baseball success at UND.
In 1990, Roebuck was also hired as UND's head baseball coach. He led UND to a 99-61-1 record over four seasons and in 1993 he took UND to the Division II College World Series for the first and only time in school history. Roebuck resigned as baseball coach in July 1993 to concentrate solely on women's basketball.
Roebuck resides in Grand Forks with his wife, Karolyn. They have a daughter, Cierra, and two grandchildren.
Coach Roebuck and UND Director of Athletics Brian Faison will be available for further comment after Saturday afternoon's game at home against Utah Valley which begins at 2 p.m.
A search for a new women's basketball coach will begin immediately.
- UND -