Former Stony Brook head coach to helm women’s basketball program

Media Credit: Courtesy of GW Athletics

While serving as Stony Brook head coach, Caroline McCombs's squad reached the 2021 NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history as a No. 14 seed.

The former head coach at Stony Brook will take over the women’s basketball program, Athletic Director Tanya Vogel announced in a release Friday.

Caroline McCombs brings 22 years of coaching experience to Foggy Bottom and a 130-76 overall record as a head coach. Her hiring comes less than three weeks after former head coach Jennifer Rizzotti and her staff were fired.

“In all of my conversations, it was evident that my values would fit seamlessly with the established culture at GW,” McCombs said in the release. “Furthermore, I’d like to thank Shawn Heilbron for the opportunity to become a head coach and the position he put me in to lead the Stony Brook program.”

During her seven-year stint at Stony Brook, McCombs led her squad to the 2021 NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history as a No. 14 seed. Her squad finished the year with a 15-6 record and an American East Championship banner.

The program had the opportunity to make the 2020 NCAA Tournament, but the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the Seawolves’ conference championship and prompted the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament. The program nabbed 22 consecutive wins and the American East regular season crown that year.

Prior to taking the reins at Stony Brook, McCombs served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Auburn from 2012-14. She helped the Tigers to consecutive WNIT berths.

She was an assistant coach under former women’s basketball coach, GW Athletics Hall-of-Famer and most winningest coach in program history Joe McKeown at Northwestern from 2010-12.

“GW has a storied tradition,” McCombs said in the release. “Having worked under Joe McKeown at Northwestern, I was able to learn what a special place GW is. I look forward to helping restore this program as contenders in the Atlantic 10 and across the country.”

She also spent five years as an assistant coach at Pittsburgh from 2005-10. With the Panthers, McCombs helped the program reach the postseason five consecutive times, including a trio of NCAA Tournament appearances and back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances.

Her first assistant coaching gig came at Valparaiso. McCombs served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for five seasons before being promoted to an associate head coach for her final year with the program. With the Crusaders, she helped the squad nab back-to-back conference crowns and NCAA Tournament appearances in 2003 and 2004.

McCombs played her collegiate days at Youngstown State. She was a four-year starter, earning a spot in the starting five in all but three of her 115 games. The 2008 Youngstown State University Athletics Hall of Fame-inductee netted 1,577 points, dished 493 assists, ripped 473 boards and picked 236 steals in her collegiate career.

After obtaining her degree in dietetics, she competed in the Czech Basketball Federation and European Cup in 1998.

McCombs is inheriting a depleted program that saw three players enter the transfer portal after Rizzotti and her coaching staff were let go. The team also hasn’t seen a winning season since 2017-18, when the squad won its seventh Atlantic 10 Championship. But Vogel said in the release she was “thrilled” to have McCombs put the program back on a winning track.

“Caroline’s passion for our program and her ability to build a culture grounded in love, service and value addition is an ideal match for our program as we strive to return GW women’s basketball to the national conversation,” Vogel said in the release.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.