WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Allison Guth leaving Yale for head coaching position at Loyola Chicago
Guth spent seven years as the Bulldogs’ head coach while setting the program record for most wins in a single season. She is now set to take over the Ramblers’ program where she began her career as an assistant coach.
After seven years as the Yale women’s basketball head coach, Allison Guth is leaving for a new role at the helm of the Loyola University Chicago Ramblers’ program. Loyola Chicago, which parted with its former coach Kate Achter in late March, announced the hire Friday afternoon.
Guth, who became Yale’s head coach in May 2015, won 99 games during her tenure as the 10th leader of the program. She piloted the Elis to a school-record 19 wins during the 2017-18 season, which included a game in the Ivy League’s postseason basketball tournament and a championship run through the Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI). The team hit the 19-win mark again in the 2019-20 season despite a canceled postseason due to COVID-19. A native of Arlington Heights, Ill., Guth started her coaching career as an assistant with Loyola Chicago from 2005 to 2007. Excluding one season she spent coaching at Missouri, Guth has split her career between New Haven and Chicago. Now, she, her wife Jess and their two sons are returning to the Windy City.
“Yale has been my dream, and it’s my heart and soul, so this was a very, very challenging decision,” Guth told the News in a Sunday phone interview. “We’re feeling all the feels right now, but this is an incredible opportunity for us to go home and for Jess and I to raise our boys where they’re going to know their grandparents and they’re going to be around their aunts and uncles and cousins. Sometimes [with] life decisions like that, opportunities don’t come by often.”
The hiring process unfolded rapidly. Guth said she first got a call from Loyola about a week before her hire was publicly announced last Friday. The process began with a conversation with Loyola Chicago’s deputy athletic director and continued with a second phone call with Ramblers Director of Athletics Steve Watson. Loyola flew her to Chicago for a day and a half last week to see the campus. Guth then returned to New Haven, where her team was in the midst of holding end-of-season workouts, and learned she got the offer on Wednesday. She said her family was praying on the decision and complimented the Yale administration for being supportive.
By Thursday night, Guth decided to accept the opportunity, and she met with her Yale team to inform them Friday morning.
“It definitely came as a shock just because she’s such a fundamental part of all of our lives, but we all see and understand that this was the right move for her,” forward Grace Thybulle ’25 said. “We all could feel and see how difficult this decision was for her because she really is an amazing person that deeply cares for us and the family that is [Yale women’s basketball], which is so much bigger than basketball. She’s built something amazing here, and I think we’re all just focused on continuing that legacy as well as excited for the new opportunities that will present themselves in the near future.”
Guth’s reunion with the Ramblers comes as the school, currently a member of the Missouri Valley Conference, prepares to start competing in the Atlantic 10 next year. Guth said the move to the A10 presents an exciting professional challenge. A10 women’s basketball, on average, is slightly more competitive than Ivy League hoops; according to conference rankings based on the NCAA’s NET rankings compiled by college ratings site WarrenNolan.com, the A10 was the ninth-best league this past season. The MVC, which Loyola Chicago is leaving, ranked 10th, while the Ivy League ranked 15th of 32 Division I conferences.
When Guth took over at Yale in 2015, her move to Connecticut also represented a return. She served as a Yale assistant coach and recruiting coordinator from 2010 to 2012 under former coach Chris Gobrecht. Guth told the News that Yale became her dream job after working with the program as an assistant.
“I think very few places could woo me away from what we’ve built at Yale and what I believe in to the core,” Guth said. “I think Loyola’s one of those places that does align with the academic integrity, the social responsibility and the competitive excellence values that I value. It’s the place I fell in love with coaching.”
In between her first job with the Ramblers and her seven-year run at Yale, Guth’s coaching career has included assistant-coaching gigs at Missouri, DePaul and Northwestern, where she worked from 2012 to 2015.
The Bulldogs earned three berths to Ivy Madness, the Ivy League’s conference basketball tournament, during Guth’s tenure, though the 2020 installment of the tournament was canceled and never played due to the onset of the pandemic. Yale did not advance to the NCAA Tournament — the Bulldogs’ last and only Ancient Eight women’s basketball title came in 1979 — but has crept up the Ivy League standings in recent years. After finishing sixth during Guth’s first two seasons, Yale ended its two most recent campaigns — 2019-20 and this past winter — in third. Last month, the Elis traveled to Boston for Ivy Madness but fell to Columbia in the semifinal.
Yale signed Guth to a contract extension through 2023–24 following the team’s 2018 run to 19 wins and the WBI postseason championship.
“I think we win in life with people, and in our profession, we’re kind of judged on wins and losses,” Guth said. “I think the success that I feel that we’ve had at Yale is really best depicted if you take time to sit down with any one of our players, any one of our staff, and you get to know them as a human and how they approach life, how they’re committed to their community, how they’re committed to being servant leaders.”
Guth, who earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from DePaul in 2010, was also known to audit courses at Yale. When Silliman Head of College Laurie Santos’ lecture “Psychology and the Good Life” became the most popular course in Yale history in spring 2018, Guth was among the approximately 1,200 students in attendance on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She was motivated to audit the class by a player who thought she would enjoy the content, Guth told the News at the time. She also audited Marc Brackett’s “Theory and Practice of Emotional Intelligence” during the 2016-17 school year.
The search for Guth’s replacement is underway, according to Associate Athletic Director for Strategic Communications Mike Gambardella. Director of Athletics Vicky Chun and Deputy Athletic Director Ann-Marie Guglieri are overseeing the search.
Guard Christen McCann ’25, who started 24 games this past season as a rookie, called Guth’s care and passion “unmatched” and said she feels the team can only express gratitude for Guth’s leadership and continue to wish her luck. McCann added that the best way the program can approach the offseason is with optimism.
“We are aware that the hiring process isn’t automatic, yet recognize that the athletic department is actively searching for a coach with our best interests in mind,” McCann said. “I have faith that our next head coach will fulfill those requirements, and I look forward to the growth we will experience as a team over the next year.”
Yale and its main rival will both enter next season with new leaders. Following the retirement of 40-year coach Kathy Delaney-Smith, Harvard last week formally introduced Carrie Moore — a former assistant at Princeton, Creighton University, the University of North Carolina and the University of Michigan — as the Crimson’s next head coach with a ceremony on the floor of Lavietes Pavilion.
A 2004 graduate of Illinois, Guth initially walked on to the women’s basketball team before earning a scholarship. She also played one year of collegiate golf.