Elaine Elliott and Iwalani Rodrigues share a hug following the press conference.
March 23, 2011
SALT LAKE CITY--Anthony Levrets, who as the interim head coach led the University of Utah women's basketball team to the 2011 Mountain West Conference Tournament title and the first round of the NCAA Tournament, has had the "interim" removed from his title, Director of Athletics Dr. Chris Hill announced today.
"We have a great winning tradition with our women's basketball program, which has averaged over 20 wins a season since becoming a varsity sport back in 1975. Our primary goal is to maintain that success, and after watching a lot of games, talking to Coach Elliott and researching other potential candidates, we decided we had the best person for the job in place in Anthony Levrets," said Hill. "This is a new era and we are excited for Coach Levrets to add to our great legacy of women's basketball at Utah."
"This is obviously an exciting time for me and my family," said Levrets. "I was grateful for the opportunity to be an assistant coach for Elaine Elliott and I am thankful and humbled at the opportunity Dr. Hill has now given me to be the next women's basketball coach at the University of Utah. It is an unbelievable honor to be the women's basketball coach here and to continue the tradition of Elaine Elliott and (former women's basketball coach) Fern Gardner."
Levrets becomes the fourth head women's basketball coach in school history, replacing Elaine Elliott, who decided to retire after taking a year's leave of absence. Elliott coached at Utah for 31 years--from 1980-2010--the last 27 years as the head coach. The winningest coach in MWC history, Elliott compiled a 582-234 (.713) record at the U. and in her career, and is one of just 19 women's basketball coaches ever to produce 20 20-win seasons.
Levrets served as Elliott's top assistant for three years before assuming interim head coaching duties at the conclusion of the 2009-10 season. Levrets came to Utah after five years as an assistant coach for the Southern Oregon University men's basketball team. In addition to his coaching duties, he served as SOU's director of recruiting, player development and scouting, helping the team reach the quarterfinals of the 2005 NAIA Division II national tournament.
While at Southern Oregon, Levrets also coached the Oregon Select AAU girls' basketball team. His other coaching experience includes two years (2001-02) as a player/coach for Hamamatsu Daigaku, a Japan Division I club team, and an assistant men's coach at Willamette (1999-2001) and Lane College (1996-99), both in Oregon.
In his first season as Utah's head coach, Levrets guided a young team to an 18-17 record that included four straight wins in the MWC Tournament. The Utes, a No. 15 seed in the NCAA Tournament, hung tough with No. 2 seed and seventh-ranked Notre Dame, before eventually falling 67-54 in the first round on Mar. 19.
The Utes will lose just one contributor--senior starter Michelle Harrison--and will regain the services of 2009-10 MWC Freshman of the Year Taryn Wicijowski, who was lost to a season-ending knee injury three games into the season. Returning starters include 2010-11 MWC Freshman of the Year Michelle Plouffe, second-team all-MWC sophomore Iwalani Rodrigues and MWC Tournament MVP Janita Badon, who will be the team's lone senior next year.
"I believe this program is in a position to do remarkable things in the near future," said Levrets. "We have an incredible core of young women coming back, and as we move to the Pac-12, we believe we can keep this program competing on a regional and national level. The foundation of this program has always been the student-athlete and we will continue to recruit high-quality student athletes."
Levrets, an Oregon native, was born in Eugene and raised in Bandon, Ore. He played junior college basketball for Southwestern Oregon Community College (1992-93) and Lane Community College (1995-96) before moving to Hamamatsu, Japan. His bachelor's degree is from Lafayette (Pa.) University.
Levrets is married to the former Sarah Barrett and they have a daughter Caiden and a son Kyler.