Tara VanDerveer says Stanford is 'thankful to be in a league that wanted us'
Tara VanDerveer says the Stanford Cardinal are thrilled to be joining the ACC and, though the program is disappointed about the impending collapse of the Pac-12, the powerhouse in women’s college basketball is looking forward to joining what VanDerveer called a “fabulous” new conference.
The latest round of conference realignment has been dominated by TV networks and the impact on football. Non-revenue sports have, in most instances, voiced concerns about less regionalized conferences and the impact they’ll have on student-athlete well-being.
VanDerveer, women’s college basketball’s all-time wins leader (1,186), took a different approach.
“Instead of doing nonconference play back East, we’ll play in November and December as much as possible on the West Coast,” VanDerveer told ESPN’s M.A. Voepel. “Because then we’ll be playing more East in January and February. Our nonconference will be regional, because our conference will be national.”
Last season, Stanford went 28-5 and finished No. 5 in the final AP poll.
Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, Duke, and North Carolina all closed out the year inside the AP Top 25.
ESPN’s way-too-early Top 25 for the upcoming 2023-24 season has a pair of ACC teams inside the top 10 and five teams overall.
It’s a strong basketball conference, made stronger by Stanford’s arrival.
VanDerveer took over at Stanford in 1985. Since then, the Cardinal has won three national championships and played in 15 Final Fours. Stanford has made the NCAA Tournament every year it has been played since 1988 and has won the Pac-12’s regular-season title 27 times.
From a basketball standpoint, it’s a huge add for the conference.
“I think it’s going to a fabulous conference for women’s basketball,” VanDerveer told ESPN.”We’re really thankful the ACC wanted Stanford. And the biggest thing for us is to continue to be able to compete on the highest level, and I want to keep coaching players who want that combination of great academics and great basketball. We’ve recruited a lot of kids from the East Coast, so our recruiting is going to be fine.”
VanDerveer called the breakup of the Pac-12 disappointing. But she said her program was going to work to make the best of it.
“We’re excited,” she told ESPN. “We’re very thankful to be in a league that wanted us.”