Wyoming women's head coach Joe Legerski watches his team take on Pepperdine during a WNIT game at the Arena-Auditorium in March. Legerski, the program's all-time winningest coach, announced his retirement Wednesday.

University of Wyoming women’s basketball coach Joe Legerski is retiring, the UW athletics department announced Wednesday. Legerski won 314 games in his 16 years in Laramie, including a 2007 Women’s National Invitation Tournament championship.

The Rock Springs native is the winningest coach in program history.

In a statement released through Wyoming women’s basketball’s official Twitter account, Legerski expressed gratitude for his time as the Cowgirls’ coach but didn’t give a specific reason for his resignation.

“It is nice to be able to make this choice at this time in my life,” Legerski, 61, said in an announcement on Twitter.

“I am truly indebted to the administration, support staff, coaches and players that made Cowgirl basketball such a success.”

He went 314–186 at Wyoming, the only university at which he was a head coach. The Cowgirls reached the Mountain West tournament championship game this year for the first time in program history, losing to Boise State.

Legerski said the 2007 WNIT championship win over Wisconsin in front of a sold-out crowd in Laramie was a highlight of his time.

“The past 16 years have been an amazing journey for the Wyoming women’s basketball program and for me, personally,” Legerski said in the announcement. “... The years have seen more highs than lows, and we were able to move from playing in front of a few hundred Wyoming fans to thousands over that time.”

Legerski led the Cowgirls to 10 postseason appearances, including the program’s only NCAA Tournament appearance in 2008. Under Legerski, Wyoming went 17-8 in the WNIT and has played in the tournament three straight years.

The Cowgirls advanced to the quarterfinals this year before being eliminated by Arizona.

“I respect Joe as much as anyone who I have worked with in college athletics,” Wyoming athletic director Tom Burman said in a statement. “I will miss him more than I can say, but I have to respect his decision to retire from the head coaching position here at the University of Wyoming.

“I can’t thank Joe enough for everything he has done in building Cowgirl basketball into the outstanding program it is, from successes too numerous to name on the court to the many successes his players have achieved off the court.”

Burman said he will “explore all options” in the search for the Cowgirls’ next coach.

Wyoming has to replace six seniors off the 2018-19 team, including two All-Mountain West performers in Bailee Cotton and Marta Gomez. Cotton was the MW Defensive Player of the Year.

The Cowgirls’ most recent recruiting class includes three in-state players — Lyman’s McKinley Bradshaw; Cody’s Paige Powell; and Casper College’s Jaye Johnson, who played at Natrona County.

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Managing Editor

Brandon Foster is the Star-Tribune's managing editor. He joined the Star-Tribune in 2016 as the University of Wyoming sports reporter after graduating from the University of Missouri and covering Mizzou athletics for two years.

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