Original article (George Mason, Women’s Basketball Head Coach Vanessa Blair-Lewis Agree to Extension) on George Mason University’s athletic website gomason.com.
George Mason University and women’s head basketball coach Vanessa Blair-Lewis reached an agreement on a contract extension through the 2027-28 season, Interim Director of Athletics Nena Rogers said.
The extension comes after the Patriots’ rapid improvement under Blair-Lewis’ leadership during her first two seasons in Fairfax. The Green and Gold saw victories in back-to-back Atlantic 10 Conference Tournaments while the number of regular-season wins increased by double digits in a short time.
“I want to thank President Gregory Washington and Interim Athletic Director Nena Rogers for their commitment and belief in the program that my staff and I are building,” said Blair-Lewis. “We are excited for the opportunity to continue to grow our program to an elite level. Our staff loves pouring into our players both on the court and off.”
Blair-Lewis has seen major success with the women’s basketball team in her two seasons at the helm, as Mason finished 16-15 this season and 8-8 in Atlantic 10 play, the Patriots’ first winning season since 2017-18. In both seasons since her arrival, Blair-Lewis has led the Patriots to a win in the conference tournament, including a run to the A10 quarterfinals this year after a victory over eighth-seed La Salle in the second round.
“We are elated to reward Vanessa’s success and her unwavering commitment to our student-athletes, staff and community,” Rogers said. “With her leadership over the past two seasons, Vanessa has elevated the women’s basketball program’s profile and made tremendous strides toward building a consistent contender in the Atlantic 10. We are thrilled with Vanessa’s commitment to excellence and we are excited for what the future holds under her guidance of this program.”
In her first season in Fairfax, Blair-Lewis led Mason to more than triple its win total from 2019-20, finishing 10-19. The Patriots also won three conference regular season games after not picking up a victory the season before while upsetting SEC member Florida at home. In the 2022 Atlantic 10 Women’s Basketball Tournament, the Patriots became the first 14th-seed to win an opening round game, defeating 11th-seed Saint Louis 65-50 in the opening round.
In 2023-24, Mason will return several of its top point-scorers, including 2023 All-Rookie selection Nalani Kaysia who finished the season ranked sixth in the conference in rebounding while averaging a double-double against A10 opponents. Transfer student Sonia Smith finished the season as the top point scorer for the Patriots and 24th in the Atlantic 10, including back-to-back 18+-point performances in the conference tournament.
“In a short period of time, we have built an amazing family environment and a strong culture in which everyone is loved, valued and respected,” said Blair-Lewis. “I am proud to serve this great university and will continue to make Mason Nation proud. In all we do, excellence is our standard.”
Before their loss in the A10 quarterfinals to top-seeded UMass, the Patriots won four consecutive games, including regular season wins over Fordham and Saint Joseph’s. The victory on the road at Fordham was the first over the Rams since Mason joined the Atlantic 10 in 2013-14. After winning just two games at home in 2021-22, Mason went 11-4 in EagleBank Arena this season, including a stretch of six consecutive games across November and December.