Monarchs' Whisenant resigns, will stay as GM

Updated: November 1, 2006, 10:32 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- John Whisenant resigned as coach of the Sacramento Monarchs on Wednesday but will remain the WNBA franchise's general manager.

Lieberman's Take
Nancy Lieberman
Though he'll continue his role as Sacramento's general manager, the WNBA will miss John Whisenant as a head coach. He upped the stakes in this league. Not only did he make Sacramento the best team in the West, he coached with class and always handled himself well, no matter the situation.

• To read more of Nancy Lieberman's analysis, click here.

Whisenant led the Monarchs to the 2005 league title and got them back to the WNBA Finals this season, losing in five games to Detroit. The WNBA's coach of the year in 2005 went 95-52 overall and made the playoffs in each of his 3½ seasons in charge.

"It was a hard decision, but I just ultimately thought this was the best for right now," Whisenant told The Sacramento Bee in a telephone interview.

Whisenant, 61, was among the candidates to become the Sacramento Kings' head coach this summer, interviewing with owners Joe and Gavin Maloof between games with the Monarchs. Whisenant also led Sacramento into the Finals while dealing with the declining health of his mother, who died during the season.

"He's strong and he's competitive," Joe Maloof told the Bee. "It's the next progression. We are fortunate that we have had this success. Normally, when you have a GM/coach, it's too much responsibility."

Whisenant, who was in New York for league meetings Wednesday, will lead a search for the Monarchs' next coach beginning Monday, team spokeswoman Rebecca Brutlag said.

The announcement took at least one player by surprise.

"I found out a little bit ago," veteran guard Kara Lawson told the Bee. "I'm surprised. I didn't know how much longer he would coach and [then] he would slide over to GM. I certainly didn't think it would be this year."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.