University of South Florida Director of Athletics Mark Harlan today announced a contract extension for Head Women’s Basketball Coach Jose Fernandez that will keep him leading the Bulls’ program through 2021.
The University added three years to Fernandez’s current contract extending it to a six-year deal. Fernandez recently completed his 15th season leading the program by taking the Bulls to their 11th post-season appearance under his direction and second NCAA Tournament in three years.
“Jose has built an incredibly strong foundation for our women’s basketball program over the last 15 seasons and has achieved unprecedented success in women’s basketball at this University,” Harlan said. “We just completed one of the most outstanding and exciting seasons in our program’s history, but we see even greater things on the horizon for our women’s basketball program and are thrilled Jose will continue to lead our program into the foreseeable future.”
Fernandez led the Bulls to their first-ever national ranking and program-record tying 27 wins in 2014-15 as USF reached its second NCAA Tournament in the last three seasons and made its 11th postseason appearance in the last 12. USF finished the year ranked No. 25 in the AP poll, posted its sixth 20-win season under Fernandez (the third consecutive) and hosted NCAA Tournament first and second round games in front of an electric Sun Dome crowd for the first time in program history.
“First and foremost, I want to thank President Genshaft. We’ve been together for 15 years and she’s provided unbelievable leadership,” Fernandez said. “I appreciate the support Mark Harlan has shown for our women’s basketball program. He has displayed a great commitment to and belief in our staff and our program, and I’m very thankful for his support. I’ve taken a lot of pride in building this program and there’s so much more to do. I think this will allow us to continue along the path we’re on.”
Fernandez took over a USF program in 2000 that had posted just three winning seasons and a program high of 14 wins in the 22 years prior to his arrival. He has become the program’s all-time winningest coach with 261 victories to his credit while leading the Bulls to their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2006, first-ever WNIT championship in 2009 and 2014 WNIT Final Four. Under his tutelage, USF has advanced to 11 postseason tournaments, including three NCAA Tournament berths and the program’s first two NCAA Tournament wins. His teams have posted a program record 27 wins on two occasions, logging a 27-10 mark in 2008-09 and 27-8 record last season.
Fernandez’s 2014-15 Bulls team reached a conference championship game for the first time in school history and grabbed the program’s best-ever NCAA Tournament seed with a No. 6 seed after posting a 27-8 record and finishing second to defending national champion UConn in the American Athletic Conference with a 15-3 mark. He guided an All-Region player for the third time in three years, helped guard Courtney Williams earn recognition as one of 12 Wade Trophy Finalists nationally and the program’s first-ever AP Honorable Mention All-American in 2015.
A consensus American Conference first team selection and one of the nation’s top scorers, Williams (20.3 ppg) returns with the bulk of USF’s line-up for the 2015-16 season. She will be joined by all-conference second team selection Alisia Jenkins, who finished 10th in the nation in rebounding (11.3 rpg), and American Conference All-Freshman Team pick Laura Ferreira as the Bulls’ return seven of their top eight scorers.