Goestenkors introduced as new Longhorns coach

Updated: April 5, 2007, 5:12 PM ET
Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas -- She's still learning the "Eyes of Texas," and her sweater was ever-so-close to burnt orange.

Gail Goestenkors figures she has plenty of time to work on her singing voice and update that wardrobe away from Duke blue. Introduced as the new women's basketball coach at Texas on Thursday, the 44-year-old Goestenkors said she'll be here until she retires.

"This is it for me," Goestenkors said. "There's no other job that would interest me."

Replacing a Legend

Former Texas coach Jody Conradt had the second most wins in women's college basketball history. But Gail Goestenkors brings an accomplished résumé to the Longhorns program. A look at their careers:

Conradt Goestenkors
Seasons 38 15
W-L 900-306 396-99
Final Fours 3 4
Championships 1 0

She can even build a pretty nice nest egg with a seven-year contract that guarantees her at least $1 million annually and incentives that could push it to close to $1.3 million, making her one of the highest paid women's coaches in the country.

Goestenkors built a national power over the last 15 years with Duke, but came to Texas for a chance to lead a program considered among the vanguards of women's college athletics.

"It was tough for me to leave, but I felt it really was time to make a change," Goestenkors told the crowd of about 200 Texas officials, cheerleaders, fans and media who attended her introductory news conference. "I knew deep in my heart this is the place I wanted to be to start a new tradition and bring back the glory."

Goestenkors ranked No. 1 on Texas' list since March 12 when Jody Conradt, one of two Division I coaches with 900 wins, retired after the Longhorns didn't make the NCAA tournament for the second straight year.

"The University of Texas is a special institution, and we believe it attracts people with good hearts and minds," said women's athletic director Chris Plonsky. "Gail possesses skill, integrity and class."

Goestenkors was in Austin for three days last week for an interview process she called a "validation" of why she wanted to come to Texas.

She got the red-carpet treatment and the hard sell from football coach Mack Brown, men's basketball coach Rick Barnes, baseball coach Augie Garrido and women's track coach Bev Kearney. Brown, Barnes and Kearney attended Thursday's news conference.

"[Brown] put the full-court press on me," Goestenkors said. "The one common thread: There's greatness here. ... This is not about money. This is about people. This is about a challenge."

Goestenkors left a Duke program where she won five Atlantic Coast Conference championships, went to four Final Fours and reached the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament the past 10 years. The Blue Devils played for the national title in 1999 and 2006 but lost both times.

Conradt, who won her only national championship in 1986 when Goestenkors was a graduate assistant at Iowa State, said she believes Goestenkors is a perfect fit.

"Texas is a special place," said Conradt, who coached the Longhorns for 31 years. "I think she is an excellent choice."

Goestenkors faced a whirlwind 48 hours.

She met with her new team Tuesday night, was due in Atlanta on Thursday night to receive the Naismith national coach of the year award and was scheduled to fly to Europe on Friday because she's an assistant on the USA Basketball senior national team. She squeezed in some time Thursday morning to contact recruits and make sure they knew about her job change.

Longhorns guard Erika Arriaran said the Texas players are excited.

"This is like a dream," Arriaran said. "She said we need to win championships, and I think we're all on the same page."

When she gets back from Europe, Goestenkors will have to stock up on some new burnt-orange shirts. She admitted the sweater was something she pulled out her closet -- it still had the tags on it -- but it was close enough to burnt orange that it looked almost perfect.

Besides, she's already got a cell phone with an "Eyes of Texas" ring tone.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press