Virginia Coach Debbie Ryan To Step Down After 34 Seasons: A Legacy That Goes Beyond Longevity

*Also see James' post: Who follows in Debbie Ryan's footsteps at Virginia?*

As already posted by SBN's Streaking the Lawn (Virginia), Virginia Cavaliers coach Debbie Ryan will be stepping down at the conclusion of this season.

In a University of Virginia release about Ryan's resignation, director of athletics Craig Littlepage noted her contributions to basketball not only on a national but global scale.

And, as James noted previously, perhaps the most immediately prominent among those in a season during which the UConn Huskies set the college basketball record longest winning streak is that it was under Ryan that coach Geno Auriemma got his start as an assistant in 1981.

"I was as shocked as anyone when I heard the news," said Auriemma in a statement released today. "Debbie has been one of the most influential people in my life.  Without the opportunity that she gave me and the support I received at the University of Virginia, my life would be totally different than it is today.  She will be missed by all her players, present and former, but most importantly, the game will miss her."

Yet while that might resonate most strongly with our current sensibilities, there's no reason to look to the legacy of others to define Ryan's.

In addition to the litany of items mentioned in the release, James looked the strength of college coaches based on Bill James' Fibonacci Win Points just prior to this season and Ryan came up as not only the top active coach in the ACC, but also seventh among active coaches in the nation.

Whether we agree with the metric's exact placement of Ryan in history, James notes that, "The point of the metric is to demerit coaches whose win totals are padded by longevity, but reward coaches who have high win percentage totals with both factors balancing each other out."

If nothing else, James' analysis at least suggests that Ryan is more than a coach that just hung on for a long time to rack up a bunch of wins with mediocre teams.

Of course the next question is who will replace Debbie Ryan and James has more thoughts on that: Who follows in Debbie Ryan's footsteps at Virginia?

Related Links:

Debbie Ryan Steps Down As Virginia Women's Basketball Head Coach (Streaking the Lawn)

Debbie Ryan To Step Down As UVa Women's Head Basketball Coach (UVA release)

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