Oregon women’s basketball: Head coach Paul Westhead will not return after this season

Oregon head coach Paul Westhead reacts after his Ducks are defeated by the UCLA Bruins. The Oregon Ducks play the UCLA Bruins at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, Ore., on Feb. 17, 2014. (Michael Arellano/Emerald)

Oregon head coach Paul Westhead reacts after his Ducks are defeated by the UCLA Bruins. The Oregon Ducks play the UCLA Bruins at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, Ore., on Feb. 17, 2014. (Michael Arellano/Emerald)

Posted by Jonathan Hawthorne and Joseph Hoyt on Tuesday, Mar. 4 at 4:12 pm.

The University of Oregon athletic department  announced Tuesday that head coach Paul Westhead’s contract will not be renewed following the conclusion of this season. His contract with Oregon ends March 31.

“We want to thank Paul for his service at the University of Oregon,” Athletic Director Rob Mullens said in a press release. “He is an iconic figure in basketball and we wish him and Cassie well in the future.”

Westhead, the only coach ever to win an NBA and WNBA championship, compiled an overall record of 65-90 since joining the Ducks in 2009. This regular season, the Ducks finished 15-14 overall, but struggled in the conference with a 6-12 record.

Oregon announced its decision before the team’s Tuesday practice. Westhead said the team was upset by the news, but anticipates that all the focus will be on basketball heading into the Pac-12 tournament this weekend in Seattle.

“I’m not like a psychologist to say, well they’re having a party or they’re devastated,” Westhead said before Tuesday’s practice. “I think it’s fair to say it’s upsetting to them and that’s why I decided to meet with you and leave them alone because they’re kind of working their own thing now.

“Everything in life takes time to evolve and develop,” Westhead added. “I’m very proud of what we’ve done. I tried to explain to them (the team), in sports, but certainly in life, it doesn’t always come out the way (you want it to). You say, well we really tried and did the right things. Some people get bigger houses than you and it doesn’t mean they’re better. I think our players and coaches were true to what they do. C’est la vie.”

He said that this team, in particular, has the ability to perform under adverse conditions.

“They understand making things happen when they’re not in their normal routine,” Westhead said. “Maybe that’s a really true sign of a team. So we’ll find out.”

His basketball experiences have led him on a tour of America, but something he’s learned in particular with his time in Oregon is not to place too much emphasis on the wins and losses.

“The only thing I learned, and I’ve know this from some of my winning seasons too,” Westhead said. “It’s really hard to value what you’ve done at a university or a professional team based just on wins and losses. I think any coach or program would have liked to have won more games. But, I think it was a nice experience for me, for the players. We were competitive and driven to do certain things, like the running game. Would I have liked five more wins? 10 more wins? Sure, but I guess I’ve learned that it’s not a good idea to value your team or yourself on wins or losses. Sometime that can be deceptive.”

Even at the age of 75, Westhead still plans to pursue other basketball-related opportunities after his contract comes to a close with Oregon.

“This lifetime isn’t over,” Westhead said. “I’m up for the hunt. I enjoy the game and look forward to future basketball experiences. Miles to go before I sleep. Still can’t wait for the next three-pointer that wins the game.”

Oregon will play Washington State in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament Thursday. The winner of that game will take on California in the second round.

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  • Another Duck

    Solid coach and a better man, all of us ducks were lucky to have had him. Best of luck coach.

  • Prototoast

    Inevitable, given how much he’s been overpaid for the past five years.

  • Coastal Duck

    I thought, five years ago (or whenever Westhead was hired), that he was a poor choice — prolific scoring? Check. Matador defense? Check.
    The men and women he led to championships were America’s best — what did he think he was going to get in a belly-up defense in the Pac-12 with less than All-American talent? What a wasted 5 years! It almost makes me yearn for Jody Runge — I said “Almost.”
    Don’t let the door hit ya in the ass, Paul.

  • jopo

    This was a terrible fit, he knows only one way and that is to run and take the quick 3 point shot. Except for 1 player, Ms Lilly was the only player to come out of his coaching a better player. Most of the girls failed to get better and the defense was always bad on all of his teams. If Bev Smith or previous coaches had this type of support they would still be there. People in Eugene deserve better, they have some loyal fans and want to support the team.