Four potential reasons why Terri Mitchell left her position

Marquette Women's Basketball vs. Notre Dame (Pink Game)
Photo by Marquette Images/Maggie Bean

When Marquette announced women’s basketball coach Terri Mitchell would not return next season, it came as a shock to many. No rumors circulated inside or outside of the program that she would leave.

So why did she leave? The following reasons point to why Marquette may have forced Mitchell out before the her 19th season.

1.    Mitchell’s Contract Expired

Possibly the biggest reason why Mitchell was relieved from her duties as head coach was because her contract was up. As of 2012, Mitchell was the second highest paid employee at Marquette, making $435,953, second only to former men’s basketball coach Buzz Williams. With all the university budget issues, one way to cut spending could be to have a smaller contract for a coach whose sport only draws 2,000 fans per game. It’s hard to believe the university would want to keep a salary of that magnitude on the books for upcoming seasons, when the product on the court hasn’t been particularly good.

2.    Mediocre Big East Play

It’s OK to pay a coach nearly $450,000 a year to coach when the team succeeds. But this season, the Golden Eagles finished 11-7 in the Big East after starting out the season 9-2. In a conference with Connecticut, Notre Dame and Louisville, all powerhouses in women’s basketball, an 11-7 finish would be solid. But in the new Big East, where the best two schools received a No. 7 (DePaul) and No. 9 (St. John’s) seed in the NCAA Tournament, an 11-7 finish isn’t great. Marquette was near the top of the Big East standings at the beginning of conference play, but the team limped through its final games and couldn’t get the job done in the postseason.

3.    Poor Postseason Performances

Marquette made the WNIT for the second straight time this season, and went 1-1 in the tournament, defeating Indiana State before losing to Indiana. The 1-1 finish is the best postseason performance in the past three years. Last season, Mitchell and the Golden Eagles fell to Northern Iowa in the first round of the WNIT. Two years ago, the team failed to make any postseason tournament. The year before that, the Golden Eagles received a bid to the NCAA Tournament, the furthest the team went during Mitchell’s tenure. Mitchell did lead the Golden Eagles to a WNIT championship in 2007, but that was her most significant postseason achievement.

4.    Administration Wants to Start Fresh

The new Marquette administration may have wanted to bring in its own person to complete the change. University President-elect Michael Lovell brought in Wojciechowski to replace Williams just six days after his hiring. Perhaps the administration wanted to change both basketball programs to continue the transition of Marquette’s leadership. With basketball being the most popular sport at Marquette, it would make sense for the new leadership at Marquette to hire who it wanted to lead both teams rather than who the old administration had in place.