Students, fans rally to keep Goestenkors at Duke

Updated: March 29, 2007, 9:32 PM ET
Associated Press

DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke coach Gail Goestenkors said Thursday that she will take a few days to consider whether to stay with the Blue Devils or leave for Texas.

"I think it is in my best interest to talk with the Duke administration, family and staff before making a decision," she said in a statement released by the university. "I have spent 15 wonderful years at Duke, love the university and what it stands for."

Her statement came the same day about 200 Duke fans held an on-campus rally to show support for Goestenkors, who has built a powerhouse at Duke over the last 15 seasons -- including four trips to the Final Four.

A seven-time Atlantic Coast Conference coach of the year, the 44-year-old Goestenkors has been considered the top candidate for the Texas job since Jody Conradt announced her resignation March 12 after when the Longhorns missed the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year.

"It has been very flattering to be considered for the Texas job," Goestenkors said. "I have always admired what a great tradition and program [Conradt] built over the years."

Goestenkors traveled to Texas earlier this week, meeting with women's athletic director Chris Plonsky and members of the school's search committee Wednesday. She also toured the Longhorns' game and four-year-old, 44,000-square-foot practice facilities.

Goestenkors did not make an appearance at the evening fan rally, which took place behind Cameron Indoor Stadium. But several of her players addressed the fans and told reporters they hoped she would stay with the Blue Devils.

Senior Lindsey Harding, the ACC player of the year, said she had exchanged text messages with Goestenkors, including telling her "Don't have too much fun" while she was in Texas. Harding said the coach replied with a smiley face.

"We haven't really talked about it because just look all this, look at all this media," she said while pointing at the crowd. "It's stressful. It's a lot of pressure and we don't want it to come from us."

Sophomore Abby Waner said she had talked with Duke's incoming recruits regarding Goestenkors' future.

"They're just as concerned as we are," Waner said. "They want to see her stay as much as we do. They all reassured me that either way, they're comfortable with Duke."

Among those that attended the fan rally were Duke men's basketball players Greg Paulus and Martynas Pocius, while associate head coach Johnny Dawkins flashed a thumbs-up to fans as he walked to his office.

"Hey, I want her to stay too," he said.

Ginny Riley, 46, of Durham, has been a season ticket-holder for eight years for a program that plays in the shadows of Mike Krzyzewski's storied men's team. She came to the rally carrying a sign saying, "Duke can't afford to let Coach G go."

"It's clear that she's one of the nation's best women's basketball coaches," Riley said. "And we have her. It's ridiculous to think we can't keep her here at Duke.

"It's hard here," she said. "Coach K is the king on campus. Sometimes it makes you think if it's an ego problem in the athletic department. Does Duke athletics want as successful a women's basketball coach as a men's basketball coach?"


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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