DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Bethune-Cookman University has announced the departure of Head Women's Basketball coach Vanessa Blair-Lewis, who leaves to accept the position of Head Women's Basketball Coach at George Mason University.
Blair-Lewis, hired in 2008, posted an overall 196-168 record in 13 seasons as head coach (All B-CU athletics were suspended for the 2020-21 academic year due to the Covid-19 Pandemic). Blair-Lewis' 117-75 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) record places her atop the women's basketball record books as the Wildcat coach with the highest conference winning percentage and best career MEAC conference record for Bethune-Cookman in its Division I era.
Widely known as a comprehensive program that produces champions while allowing coaching and support staffs to grow personally and professionally, B-CU Athletics has seen both of its highly successful and record setting head basketball coaches catapulted to new opportunities at major universities in the past week because of the success they earned in Daytona Beach. Ryan Ridder, former head men's basketball coach, left earlier to become the head men's coach at the University of Tennessee at Martin.
Under Blair-Lewis, the Lady Wildcats won four MEAC regular season championships and one MEAC Tourney title with post-season appearances in the WNIT in 2016 at Florida Gulf Coast, 2017 versus Wake Forest and 2018 at Georgia Tech. Bethune-Cookman's first-ever NCAA tourney appearance was at Notre Dame in 2019. The Lady Wildcats also were ranked in the College Insider.com Mid-Major Top 25 Poll in 2017-18 and 2019-20 under Blair-Lewis' leadership, finishing the 2019-20 season 25th.
"Vanessa Blair-Lewis is simply a phenomenal person who happens to be a great coach! She brought comprehensive success back to our program in a manner we had not seen in several years. I want to thank her for the phenomenal leadership she provided as our head coach. She is the shining example of what Bethune-Cookman University is about, whether on the sidelines coaching, in the home recruiting, or in the community as a servant leader," said Lynn W. Thompson, B-CU Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics. "Coaching basketball was not her career, it was her ministry and she has managed to transform our student-athletes into champions as she built a perennial championship program of academic and athletic excellence. She is a Hall of Fame mother, wife and team member and we are so proud of what she has accomplished, and pray for nothing but success for her and the family on the next step in their journey. Once a Wildcat…always a Wildcat."
The program has already launched a search for Blair-Lewis' replacement. During the transition, Sandra L. Booker, Senior Associate Director of Athletics/Senior Woman Administrator and a former head women's basketball coach, will serve as the administrator of the women's basketball program.
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