staff, staff, August 25, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS - Gopher Athletics today announced that the University of Minnesota has agreed to new contract terms for three of the athletic department?s head coaches - men?s basketball coach Richard Pitino, women?s basketball coach Marlene Stollings and softball coach Jessica Allister.

?We?re excited to announce new contract agreements for Richard, Marlene and Jess,? said Interim Athletics Director Beth Goetz. ?All three are leading programs on the rise and developing their student-athletes both academically and athletically. We are proud to have them represent Gopher Athletics and the University of Minnesota and look forward to having them in maroon and gold for many years to come.?

Pitino, who led the Gophers to the NIT crown in his first year, enters his third season at the helm of the Minnesota men?s basketball program in 2015-16. While building a 43-28 coaching record in his first two seasons with the Gophers, Pitino set a new program-record with 25 wins in 2013-14 and has tallied four top-25 victories, most recently in February when he led the Gophers to their first win at Michigan State, an eventual Final Four team, in 25 years. Pitino has coached three All-Big Ten honorable mention players in Andre Hollins, DeAndre Mathieu and Maurice Walker.

?I am extremely grateful for this opportunity given to me by President Kaler, Beth Goetz and the University of Minnesota,? said Pitino. ?Being the basketball coach at this tremendous university is something I cherish every day. My family and I love living in the Twin Cities and we look forward to continuing to build this basketball program the right way.?

In her first season with the Gophers, Stollings led the Minnesota women?s basketball program to its first NCAA appearance in six years. The team?s 23 wins were its highest total in 10 years and its 11-7 Big Ten record matched the best mark in the past decade. In addition to the team?s success, Stollings developed two student-athletes into 2015 WNBA draft picks, center Amanda Zahui B. and forward Shae Kelly. Zahui B., a First Team All-American across many publications, was selected second overall.

?I am grateful for the opportunity provided by President Kaler and Beth Goetz,? Stollings said. ?Their belief in me and our staff demonstrates the commitment shared in elevating this program to unprecedented heights of national relevance. This is an exciting time to be part of Gopher women's basketball and I am honored to represent this incredible university.?

Allister returns for her sixth season after leading her team to a 49-11 record last spring, tying the highest single-season win total in Gopher softball history and setting a new standard for winning percentage (.817). The 2015 squad also set new program benchmarks with 80 home runs, 417 runs scored and 501 strikeouts (pitching). Allister?s squad goes into the 2016 season with a streak of three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, the longest such streak in program history.

?I am honored to represent the University of Minnesota, the Athletic Department and Gopher Softball,? commented Allister. ?Thank you to President Kaler and Beth Goetz for their continued support. It is an exciting time for Gopher Softball and I am eager to build on the successes of the last five years.?