By AARON BEARD AP Basketball Writer
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina has hired Princeton’s Courtney Banghart as its next women’s basketball coach.
The school announced Banghart’s hiring Tuesday morning after UNC’s board of trustees approved terms for a five-year contract for the 40-year-old coach.
Banghart went 254-103 in 12 seasons at Princeton, guiding the Tigers to seven Ivy League titles and eight NCAA Tournament bids in the past decade.
Banghart’s challenge in Chapel Hill includes recruiting for a power-conference program in a league featuring national powers Notre Dame and Louisville.
Banghart replaces Sylvia Hatchell, a Hall of Fame coach who resigned April 18 after an external investigation found she had made “racially insensitive” comments and pressured players to compete through medical issues.
The report following the review of the program also cited a “breakdown of connectivity” between Hatchell and the players after 28 interviews of current players and program personnel.
It’s now up to Banghart to move the program in a new direction after Hatchell’s 33-year tenure, as well as to provide a jolt of energy after some bumpy years for the Tar Heels even before Hatchell’s exit.
“Courtney Banghart has proven she knows how to lead students to wins both on and off the court,” UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham said in a statement.
“She believes in developing strong character and a championship mentality, in recruiting and graduating players who want to serve their community, and in building relationships in and outside of her program.”
The Tar Heels returned to the NCAA Tournament last year after regular-season wins against No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 7 North Carolina State, but they had missed the tournament for the previous three seasons.
Some of that time was spent with the program under the shadow of the school’s multi-year academic case dealing with irregular courses featuring significant athlete enrollments across numerous sports, a case that reached a no-penalty conclusion in October 2017. Along the way, there were several transfers and hits to recruiting that hindered the program in the years following its NCAA Sweet 16 appearance in 2015.