UB has named Becky Burke as its next women’s basketball head coach, the school announced in a press release Wednesday.
Burke comes to UB from the University of South Carolina Upstate, where she was named 2022 Big South Coach of the Year. Last season, USC Upstate tied program records for wins (22) and conference wins (14) in a season.
The Spartans saw a 14-game improvement from the previous season and finished as a No. 3 seed in the Big South Tournament after being projected to finish 10th in the conference.
“We are extremely excited to welcome Becky Burke to our UB Family,” UB Athletic Director Mark Alnutt said in the release. “Throughout this search process, she quickly separated herself from the other candidates by displaying an infectious passion for the sport, a strong work ethic, and a competitive nature while forging genuine relationships with her student-athletes as she prepares them for success both on and off the court.
“She articulated a vision for this program which will build upon the success that we’ve had and continue to make our brand nationally recognized as a premier basketball program. Becky is a rising star in our industry and a proven winner which is very apparent at all of her previous stops. University at Buffalo women’s basketball is in very good hands for years to come.”
Before coaching at USC Upstate, Burke was the head coach at the University of Charleston in West Virginia and at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, AZ — both Division II programs. She led Charleston to an appearance in the top-25 and was responsible for helping launch the women’s basketball program at ERAU.
Burke enjoyed a standout playing career at Louisville and helped the Cardinals make three NCAA Tournament appearances, including the Sweet Sixteen in 2011 and the National Championship game in 2009.
“I would like to thank Mark Alnutt, President Tripathi and the rest of the search committee for trusting me to be the next head coach here at the University at Buffalo,” Burke said in the release. “From the start of this process, Mark and my vision for the women’s basketball program at UB have aligned perfectly. This program has been built under Coach Legette-Jack’s leadership into a dominant program in the MAC with national respect.
“I am fully committed to keeping it that way and becoming the premiere mid-major destination for some of the best players in the country. We will pride ourselves on continuing to raise the bar on the court but also be great representatives of this university and the City of Buffalo. Again, I am humbled and so appreciative of this opportunity and can’t wait to get on campus.”
The Burke hiring comes after former UB head coach Felisha Legette-Jack accepted the same position at Syracuse University on March 26. Legette-Jack had coached the Bulls for 10 seasons and led them to three MAC titles and four NCAA Tournament appearances — including the 2018 Sweet Sixteen.
Burke will have to figure out how to replace a number of key contributors to last season’s March Madness team, including junior guard Dyaisha Fair, who entered the transfer portal after ranking fourth in the nation in scoring, and reigning MAC Freshman of the Year Georgia Woolley, who transferred to Syracuse to reunite with Legette-Jack.
Alnutt outlined a two to three week timetable to fill UB’s coaching vacancy; Burke’s hiring was announced 11 days into that timetable.
An introductory press conference is scheduled for Friday at noon at Alumni Arena.
Anthony DeCicco is the senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and @DeCicco42 on Twitter
Anthony DeCicco is the Editor-in-Chief of The Spectrum. His words have appeared in outlets such as SLAM Magazine andSyracuse.com. In 2020, he was awarded First Prize for Sports Column Writing at the Society of Professional Journalists' Region 1 Mark of Excellence Awards. In his free time, he can be found watching ‘90s Knicks games and reading NFL Mock Drafts at 3 a.m.