The University of South Florida women’s basketball team has become a mainstay in the national spotlight under the guidance of head coach Jose Fernandez. After a return trip to the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season and the fourth in five years, USF Director of Athletics Mark Harlan solidified the continued leadership of the program with a contract extension that will keep Fernandez at the helm through 2023.
“What Jose has been able to build and sustain in the women’s basketball program at USF over the last 17 years is remarkable and a point of pride for all Bulls fans, ” Harlan said. “We are thrilled that he continues to lead a program that has established itself among the best in the nation and look forward to many more exciting seasons and achievements to come.”
The University added two years to Fernandez’s current contract extending it to a six-year deal. Fernandez completed his 17th season with the Bulls in 2016-17 and became the third active coach in the American Athletic Conference to reach 300 career wins. Fernandez is the winningest coach in USF basketball history with a career record of 309-235. He has led USF to five consecutive 20-win seasons, eight in his tenure, and 13 postseason appearances.
“I am so appreciative of President Genshaft and Athletic Director Mark Harlan,” Fernandez commented. “Their support of our women’s basketball program is remarkable. The city of Tampa and USF has been home to me and my family for the last 17 years and I am looking forward to continuing to lead this team. There is nowhere I would rather be than here, at this incredible institution and athletic department.”
After arriving on campus in 2000, Fernandez transformed the program from three winning seasons in program history to a frequent member of the Top-25 polls. In the last three years, the Bulls have advanced to the NCAA Tournament second round twice and ranked as high as No. 15 nationally in both the AP and Coaches polls. Fernandez has led his teams to three American Athletic Conference championship games and coached back-to-back American Athletic Conference Freshmen of the Year.
Fernandez has developed four All-America honorable mentions, including Courtney Williams who became the program’s first All-American in 2016. Williams was also the program’s highest draft pick in the WNBA draft, selected eighth by the Phoenix Mercury in the first round. Fernandez has coached four WNBA Draftees and several national team members from around the world. His eye for talent has also pulled in three five-star recruits in the last two years.
Fernandez and the Bulls return a group of 10 veterans to the 2017-18 roster, including four starters from last year’s NCAA Tournament team. The upcoming senior class could be the first class in program history to make four appearances in the NCAA Tournament.