Syracuse introduces Orange legend Felisha Legette-Jack as new women’s basketball coach

SU introduces Legette-Jack as new women's basketball coach

The former SU All-American must navigate the transfer portal in her early days of reviving Syracuse basketball.
Published: March 28, 2022
Felisha Legette-Jack and SU athletic director John Wildhack hold up a jersey with Felisha's name on it in the Melo Center on March 28th, 2022.
John Wildhack introduces new women's basketball coach Felisha Legette-Jack in the Melo Center on Monday.

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.”

New SU womens' basketball head coach, Felisha Legette-Jack, walks into the Melo Center as head coach for the first time on March 28th 2022.

Felisha Legette-Jack walks into the Melo Center as head coach for the first time on Monday.

Felisha Legette-Jack laughs prior to being offcially announced as the new Syracuse women's basketball head coach in the Melo Center on March 28th, 2022.

SU women's basketball head coach Felisha Legette-Jack sits front row prior to being introduced on Monday.

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.”

A wide shot of Felisha Legette-Jack at the podium during the official press conference in the Melo Center on March 28th, 2022.
SU's Felisha Legette-Jack answers the media's questions at the Melo Center.

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.”

Felisha Legette-Jack stands at the pdium during the official press conference in the Melo Center on March 28th, 2022.
Felisha Legette-Jack tells the crowd a story during the press conference on Monday.

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.”

Media were out in full force at Felisha Legette-Jack's introductory press conference in the Melo Center on March 28th, 2022.
The media was out in full force for Felisha Legette-Jack's introductory press conference on Monday.