Monday, April 30, 2012

Beth Cunningham leaves VCU for Notre Dame

We never got that first tweet.

Several months ago, then-VCU coach Beth Cunningham opened up the Twitter page @LadyRamsHC, and picked up 147 followers in the time since. But in the space where you'd typically find a string of 140-character pearls of wisdom, all that's there is the line "LadyRamsHC hasn't tweeted yet."

It's one of the few things she didn't get done during her time at VCU.

Unfortunately for Rams fans, that time is over now, as the news that has been in the winds for several days is finally official. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Monday that Cunningham has stepped down to become associate coach at her alma mater, Notre Dame.

"It's a chance I couldn't turn down," Cunningham said. "It's just such a special place - an amazing place, really. The older I get, and the more I see and experience, the more I realize that there's really no place like it."

The South Bend Tribune also has an extensive piece on Cunningham and her new assignment.

An opening developed on the Notre Dame staff when associate head coach Jonathan Tsipis accepted the head job at George Washington after nine seasons with the Fighting Irish.

The move returns Cunningham to her native Indiana - she's from Bloomington - to her former coach Muffet McGraw and to the school where she twice earned Kodak All-America honors and still holds the program's all-time scoring record with 2,322 points. Notre Dame is also where she met her husband, Dan. On Aug. 24, Cunningham gave birth to the couple's first child, Margaret Jane.

That Cunningham would answer McGraw's call is hardly surprising. Last September, in this Richmond Times-Dispatch story chronicling the enduring relationship between player and coach, we learned that Cunningham and her husband, Dan, frequently stayed at McGraw's house when they visited South Bend. For her part, McGraw called Cunningham "the best leader I've ever coached."

VCU's all-time winningest coach, Cunningham led the Rams to a 167-115 record in her nine seasons.She also guided the Rams to a program-record five straight postseason appearances, including an at-large selection to the NCAA Tournament in 2008-09. Last season, VCU finished with a 19-15 mark and advanced to the third round of the WNIT.

Two weeks ago, forward Courtney Hurt became the third VCU player in five seasons to be drafted by a WNBA team when the Indiana Fever selected her with the 34th overall pick.

The 2012-13 season already projected as a transition year for the Rams given the loss of Hurt, the program's all-time leading scorer and rebounder, and high-scoring Andrea Barbour, a two-time All-CAA performer. Now, the transition will be greater than anyone imagined.

Late Monday, Hurt, who began training camp with the Fever on Sunday, tweeted the following:

"I feel bad for my girls back at VCU a lot of uncertainty right now..Gotta stick together through the good and the bad."


  1. Andrea Barbour was the most exciting player in the CAA... Barbour is a WNBA talent.... The WNBA GM's need to extend their rosters... Barbour can compete with the WNBA stars.. Barbour is a box office player... I would pay to see her play...

  2. Wow, picks up and leaves just because she lost a talented class. Pathetic

  3. VCU has a Code of Conduct that Beth broke by lying to the administration, staff, and players. She is better off leaving.

  4. This next season in the A10 is going to be a disaster for VCU WBB...the only bright side is that the Rams season in the CAA would have been even worse.