Syracuse introduces Orange legend Felisha Legette-Jack as new women’s basketball coach
SU introduces Legette-Jack as new women's basketball coach
Felisha Legette-Jack couldn’t get the words out of her mouth as she cried to her husband on the phone last Wednesday.
A two-time state champion at Nottingham High School who played at Syracuse from 1984-89, Legette-Jack shared the news she’d been working toward over 20 seasons of college head coaching.
“I shared with him that we’re gonna go home,” Legette-Jack said about last Wednesday’s phone call with her husband. “A lot of people have these moments where you can’t explain your feelings. That was a moment where, on the phone, I couldn’t really tell you how excited I was about this opportunity.”
Legette-Jack, who coached the University of Buffalo’s women’s basketball team into this spring’s NCAA Tournament, interviewed for the vacant Syracuse coaching position last week.
Syracuse University retired Legette-Jack’s No. 33 last November as the first SU female athlete to earn the distinction. The school’s athletic director John Wildhack stood next to her on the Carrier Dome floor then.
On Monday, holding a white Syracuse basketball jersey in front of family, friends and her former teammates, Wildhack introduced Legette-Jack as Syracuse women’s basketball’s new head coach.
“(Legette-Jack) earned and deserves this opportunity,” Wildhack said in his introductory speech. “I didn’t select her because she’s an alum, because she’s an All-American here or a native of Syracuse. I selected her because she possesses all the qualities we want in a head coach.”
Wildhack’s qualities included committing to the players as student-athletes and preparing them for life outside of basketball at Syracuse. Legette-Jack steps into the coaching role one year after 12 players transferred from SU under coach Quentin Hillsman.
Vonn Read, a longtime assistant under Hillsman, served as acting head coach last season. The Orange stumbled to an 11-18 record, including a 4-14 in-conference mark. SU lost to Clemson in the first round of the ACC Tournament.
“Some previous jobs I took, I tried to become what that community needed me to be or wanted me to be. I’m not going to be like the previous coach,” Legette-Jack said. “My work ethic is what I want you to see, not me blabbering about maybe what I’ll do in November. I want to show you on a consistent basis.”
Right now, three Syracuse players are in the transfer portal, including starters Chrislyn and Chrissy Carr. Chrissy attended the ceremony on Monday.
Legette-Jack did not say if she will retain Read on the coaching staff but said she met with the team after accepting the SU coaching position.
“This is not about basketball, this isn’t about school, either,” Legette-Jack said. “It’s about a microcosm of life and every single day I get an opportunity to coach young people in the locker room and on the court. We talk about growing as a young woman.”