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Texas Tech coach Sharp to resign at year's end

LUBBOCK, Texas -- Hall of Fame coach Marsha Sharp, who won
an NCAA title at Texas Tech and turned the school into a perennial
national power, said Friday she is resigning at the end of the
season.

The 53-year-old Sharp made the announcement near the end of a
season marked by health problems and Tech dropping out of the Top
25 for the first time in more than a decade.

"I knew the time was right for me," said Sharp, who said her
health is fine and she's "good to go."

During 24 seasons in Lubbock, Sharp has taken Tech to 16
straight NCAA appearances, reaching the Elite Eight four times and
the Sweet 16 seven times. The Lady Raiders won the national title
in 1993 when Sheryl Swoopes led them to a 31-3 record.

Texas A&M coach Gary Blair, a Tech alum, said Sharp was one of
the first to show the women's game could gain widespread appeal and
be marketed well.

"She built a dynasty at Texas Tech and did it with class,
integrity, and teams that were well schooled on fundamentals," he
said. "Good ladies can finish first."

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003, Sharp hasn't had a
losing season. This year could be different, though. Tech (13-12,
8-6 Big 12) has two conference games remaining before the Big 12
tournament in Dallas.

Sharp's final home game will be Wednesday against No. 9
Oklahoma. She is currently 570-187 overall at Texas Tech.

"She's been a leader in women's basketball for a long time,"
Tech athletic director Gerald Myers said. "It's a close to a great
era."

Myers said the school -- which later released a statement clarifying that Sharp was resigning, not retiring -- will begin a national search to replace
Sharp after the season, but didn't rule out current assistants.
Sharp will continue to work with the school as associate athletic
director of special projects and in that capacity "she's going to
raise us some money," Myers said.

Sharp said she was staying in Lubbock but wouldn't rule out
returning to coach a national or Olympic team.

"I'm not going to close any doors," she said.

Other Big 12 coaches said Sharp will be missed.

"Marsha is one of those solid people in our profession who has
really been instrumental in the growth of our sport," Texas coach
Jody Conradt said.

Sharp "represents everything that is good about women's
basketball," said Sooner coach Sherri Coale. That couldn't help
but rub off onto her program, she said.

"Everything about Texas Tech women's basketball is class," she
said. "They just emanate class."

She said her non-life-threatening heart problem in January was
"significant enough to get my attention," but her decision to
leave was made before then.

Sharp said she told Tech administrators in October that this
would be her last year and planned to make the announcement after
the season, but media reports of her departure forced her to do it
Friday.

Appearing to get choked up, Sharp said it was difficult
explaining her decision to players Friday.

"I think, as you would expect, they're struggling just a little
bit," she said. "There was some emotion from my side too."

Some players said they first heard about Sharp's plans from
crawls on sports shows.

"It's kind of crazy when everyone is calling you saying 'what's
happening?' and you have no idea," said Chesley Dabbs, who's been
out for the season after knee surgery. "It's definitely going to
take a toll on us the next couple of games."

Tech dropped out of the Top 25 in early December after 248
consecutive weeks beginning Jan. 12, 1992.

On Jan. 18, Sharp was taken to a hospital in Norman after
suffering nausea and shortness of breath while participating in a
short game-day shooting session before the Lady Raiders lost to
Oklahoma.

Eight days later, she underwent an angiogram after tests
suggested she had blockage in a coronary artery. The angiogram
found no problem with the arteries or any heart damage, the
university said in a release. Instead it found a muscle bridge or
band over the left coronary artery that led to initial abnormal
test results.

Sharp grew up in Tulia, a small ranching and farming community
in the Panhandle, where she played three-on-three basketball. In
1974, she graduated from Wayland Baptist University in Plainview
and went on to coach at Lockney High School for six years.

She came to Tech as an assistant in 1981 and took over as head
coach the next season.

At her final home game, Myers said, the capacity of United
Spirit Arena will be tested.

"We built this gym for 15,000," he said. "I don't think it
will be big enough."