BREAKING: Skeete joins Merritt at Illinois

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Vernette Skeete (center) coaches from the sidelines next to Scott Merritt (left) at the 2020 BIG EAST Women’s Basketball Tournament in Wintrust Arena. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Women’s basketball assistant coach Vernette Skeete is leaving Marquette to join University of Illinois as an assistant coach, the Illini head coach Nancy Fahey announced in a statement Monday afternoon.

The announcement comes just nearly two weeks after Scott Merritt left the Golden Eagles for the Fighting Illini March 26.

“We are excited that Coach Vernette Skeete is joining the Fighting Illini women’s basketball program,” Fahey said in a statement. “Vernette is a proven winner at top-25 programs Marquette and Miami where she was instrumental in the rebuild of both programs. Her impact here will be felt immediately.”

Skeete spent the last six seasons at MU. She was the last remaining coach from former head coach Carolyn Kieger’s staff, who is now head coach at Penn State. 

During her time at Marquette, Skeete helped develop one of the most successful classes in program history, featuring players like Marquette women’s basketball all-time leading scorer Allazia Blockton, Amani Wilborn, Danielle King, Erika Davenport and Natisha Hiedeman, who now plays in the WNBA for the Connecticut Sun.

Skeete experienced the most successful run in Marquette history during her tenure, reaching a program-best No. 8 in the AP Poll in 2019. The coach also helped lead the Golden Eagles to three BIG EAST Championships, winning the tournament title in 2019.

Prior to Marquette, Skeete was the head coach at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City, Florida. Through two seasons, Skeete led the program to a 50-13 record and won a state championship in 2013. Skeete also recieved FCSAA Coach of the Year honors in 2012-13.

Skeete spent three years at the University of Miami as coordinator of basketball operations and two seasons as assistant coach. During her tenure, the Hurricanes became a powerhouse in the Atlantic Coast Conference, winning the league title in the 2010-11 season, earning a top-10 ranking in the 2011-12 season and receiving consecutive No. 3 seeds in the NCAA Tournament in 2011 and 2012.

Marquette head coach Megan Duffy will now look to hire a new assistant coach for the 2020-21 season.

This story was written by Tyler Peters. He can be reached at tyler.peters@marquette.edu or on Twitter @_tylerpeters_.