Chris Gobrecht, a 25-year Division I coaching veteran and a two-time Pacific-10 Conference Coach of the Year, will be the new women’s basketball head coach, the Yale Athletic Department announced at a press conference yesterday.
Gobrecht replaces Amy Backus, who stepped down this spring after six years at the helm of the Elis to take a position in the Yale Athletic Department. She inherits a Yale team that has struggled the past few seasons, including the 2004-05 campaign in which the Bulldogs went 6-21 and finished seventh in the Ivy League.
“I believe Yale is one of the finest institutions in the world, and to be involved with this university in any capacity is a total privilege,” Gobrecht said. “I think my career has been leading up to this.”
A former USC coach, Gobrecht was fired in 2004 with one year remaining on her contract, following a season that included a 15-13 record and a third-place finish in the Pac-10. She will commute back-and-forth between New Haven and her home in Southern California before relocating to the Elm City this summer.
Despite the team’s less-than-stellar record in recent years, Gobrecht said she sees a positive future for the Elis.
“I believe that this program is in the best shape of any that I have ever inherited and I’m so thankful that I get to start with such a solid team,” Gobrecht said. “To have a chance to be a part of the elite Ivy League was just a dream come true.”
Gobrecht has displayed undeniable expertise during her 25 years of coaching. As the ninth women’s basketball coach in Yale’s history, she enters the Ivy League with more career victories than any Ivy League coach in either men’s and women’s basketball. Gobrecht’s 425 career wins are more than the Yale women’s basketball team, which has had 361 wins over its entire 31-year history.
“Of course, at first, it’s her reputation in basketball,” said Senior Associate Athletic Director Colleen Lim, who chaired the search committee for the new coach. “But as soon as we spoke with her, her questions were so deep, and she knew so much about Yale. She just was a wonderful candidate.”
Other members of the committee included men’s basketball head coach James Jones, Associate Athletic Director Tim Ford, former Yale women’s basketball player Karen Yarasavage ’87 as well as Council of Masters chair Judith Krauss, Yale College Associate Dean Penelope Laurans and psychology professor Valerie Purdie.
Gobrecht’s coaching career began in 1978 at Santa Fe Springs High School in Southern California, where her team went 20-4 to make the CIF AAA playoffs. The following year, Gobrecht led Pasadena City College to a 25-5 record, a conference championship, and second place in the state junior college tournament.
In her 11 seasons at Washington, Gobrecht won at least 16 games every year, had eight 20-win campaigns and finished with a 243-89 record. In addition to their three conference championships, her Huskies finished second in the conference four times. Her 1989-90 squad won a school-record 28 games and ended the season ranked third in the nation, the highest mark in program history. Washington was the only team to beat NCAA champion Stanford that year.
“My observation of Chris goes back to my days in the Pac-10 when I saw how well she developed the program at the University of Washington,” Athletic Director Tom Beckett said. “She did a great job with the Huskies, and now she’s a Bulldog. We think it’s an absolutely perfect connection, and it’s definitely the right move for us.”
Before making her way to Yale, Gobrecht amassed her 400th career win as she led the USC over Pepperdine on Dec. 4, 2002, becoming the third active coach to reach the 400 win mark.