All-Time Winningest College Basketball Coaches

March 18, 2024

all time winningest college basketball coaches

I am far from a college sports diehard. I didn’t play football growing up, so I never cultivated an emotional connection to any of the mainstays of the premiere collegiate sport, like powerhouse legacies, rivalries, and awe-inspiring stadiums. Nor did I attend a Division I behemoth where sports are a pillar of student culture. And yet with all that said, every March, without fail, I find myself pulled to college basketball. Maybe it’s the ritualistic nature of betting on brackets and praying for impossible upsets. Or maybe it’s because I grew up during a time when some of the winningest college basketball coaches—Mike Krzyzewski, Geno Auriemma, Pat Summit, and more—seemed to be at the height of their dominance, capturing national attention, collecting national championships, and racking up record wins. Check out a list of the winningest college basketball coaches below.

Winningest College Basketball Coaches

1) Tara VanDerveer (Idaho, Ohio State, Stanford) – 1214 career wins

Tara VanDerveer is the winningest college basketball coach of all time. To give you an idea of the kind of rarified air VanDerveer is breathing: she’s one of only nine NCAA Women’s Basketball coaches to win more than 900 games. She’s one of only ten NCAA Men’s or Women’s coaches to win more than 1000 games.  And on January 21st, 2024, the longtime Stanford head coach won her 1203rd game, in so doing becoming the winningest college basketball coach of all time. It was fitting that she won the record-breaking game at Stanford, because she’s been a fixture on the sidelines there since the mid-eighties. Apart from boasting a win percentage at Stanford of .829, she’s led the Cardinal to three national championships, the most recent coming in 2021.

2) Geno Auriemma (UConn) – 1208 career wins

 Several of the winningest college basketball coaches listed here are not yet done amassing wins. Geno Auriemma, head coach of UConn’s dominant women’s basketball squad, is one of them. Auriemma, who’s been the Huskies head coach since 1985, boasts an accolade-studded career that, when all is said and done, may end up being the most decorated career of any coach in college basketball history.

When he was seven years old, Auriemma’s family emigrated from Italy to the United States, settling in Norristown, Pennsylvania. After graduating from college, he entered professional basketball, securing his first gig in 1978 as an assistant coach at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. In 1985, he became head coach of the UConn Huskies women’s basketball team. Prior to his arrival, the Huskies were far from a powerhouse. In fact, they’d only posted one winning season in their entire history. Auriemma’s UConn career got off to a somewhat inauspicious start—his first year, the Huskies went 12-15. But that first lackluster season was the exception, not the rule: it would turn out to be Auriemma’s only losing season as UConn’s head coach.

Now on to the accolades: he’s led the Huskies to six undefeated seasons, and he was at the helm during the two longest winning streaks in college basketball history. Over the course of his tenure, UConn has won the national championships eleven times, the most in women’s college basketball history. And as of the writing of this article, he’s not done yet.

3) Mike Krzyzewski (Army, Duke) – 1202 career wins

 Along with being one of the winningest college basketball coaches, Mike Krzyzewski—Coach K—might be one of the most iconic coaches the sport has ever seen. That’s because in addition to winning five national titles with Duke and establishing the Blue Devils as one of the premiere basketball programs in the country, he led the United States national team to gold medals at the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Olympics.

Back in 2011, Coach K became the winningest Division I men’s basketball coach of all time, breaking a record previously held by longtime Indiana Hoosiers head coach Bob Knight. A few years later, in 2015, he became the first men’s college basketball coach to record 1,000 wins. Krzyzewski retired in 2022.

4) Jim Boeheim (Syracuse) – 1116 career wins

 It’s fitting that Jim Boeheim, one of the winningest college basketball coaches of all time, spent his entire coaching career at Syracuse. He was born in Lyons, New York—just about 50 miles west of Syracuse. Boeheim enrolled in Syracuse as a student in 1962 and walked on to the basketball squad his freshman year. He graduated in 1966, and in 1969 he returned to the Orange as an assistant coach. In 1976, he became head coach, a position which he held until 2023. During that time, he recorded a win percentage of .697 and guided the Orange to ten Big East regular season championships, five Big East tournament championships, five Final Four appearances, and three appearances in the national championship game. In 2003, with neophyte Carmelo Anthony on the squad, he led the Orange to a national championship.

5) Pat Summit (Tennessee) – 1098 career wins

 Like Coach K, Pat Summit belongs to the class of basketball coaches one could safely label “iconic.” The head coach of the University of Tennessee women’s basketball team from 1974 to 2012, she led the Vols to an incredible eight national titles. When she retired, she was the winningest women’s college basketball coach of all time.

Throughout her career—both as a player and a coach—Summit broke records and pushed boundaries. Summit became head coach of the Vols when she was in her early twenties, and she never recorded a losing season. In 1976, the first year that women’s teams competed in the Olympic tournament, Summit played on the U.S. national team that went on to win a silver medal. Yes, that was during her tenure as the Vols’ head coach. And by the way, that same year, Summit earned her master’s degree in physical education.

In 2012, Summit was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. In 2016, to the detriment of much more than just the sport of basketball, she passed away as a result of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

6) Barbara Stevens (Clark, UMass, Bentley) – 1058 career wins

 One of the winningest college basketball coaches, Barbara Stevens is undoubtedly the most dominant Division II basketball coach of all time. She built her legacy at three Massachusetts colleges—Clark University, UMass, and Bentley—between the years of 1977 and 2020. Stevens boasts a career winning percentage as a head coach of .787. In 2014, she led the Bentley women’s basketball team to a Division II national championship.

7) Vivian Stringer (Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, Iowa, Rutgers) – 1055 career wins

 Charlaine Vivian Stringer is a trailblazer in more ways than one. As a high schooler in rural Pennsylvania, she was barred from the school’s cheerleading squad because of her race. But she sued, won, and became one of the first Black cheerleaders in the school’s history.

On the sidelines of the basketball court, Stringer became the first coach in college basketball history to lead three separate women’s teams to the Final Four. She first did it with Cheyney State in 1982; in 1993, she did it again with the University of Iowa; and she made it to the Final Four twice with Rutgers, first in 2000, then again in 2007. Stringer retired in 2022 with an overall record of 1055-426 (that’s a winning percentage of .712), making her one of the winningest college basketball coaches of all time.

8) Sylvia Hatchell (Francis Marion, North Carolina) – 1023 career wins

 Sylvia Hatchell made her mark as a head coach at the University of North Carolina, where she led the women’s Tar Heels basketball squad from 1986 to 2019. Her teams were dominant over that span of time, becoming eight-time ACC tournament champions, four-time ACC regular season champions, and reaching the Final Four three times. In 1994, Hatchell led the Tar Heels to a national championship.

9)Muffet McGraw (Lehigh, Notre Dame) – 936 wins

 Muffet McGraw spent 33 seasons as the head women’s basketball coach at Notre Dame, winning with the Fighting Irish in that time at a .771 clip. Apart from being one of the winningest college basketball coaches of all time, her career highlights include two national championships, both with Notre Dame—the first in 2001, the second in 2018.

10) Bob Huggins (Walsh, Akron, Cincinnati, Kansas State, West Virginia) – 935 career wins

 Bob Huggins is just the sixth men’s college basketball coach with more than 900 career victories. His teams have made the NCAA tournament 24 times, and they’ve made the Final Four twice—Cincinnati in 1992, West Virginia in 2010.

 11) Jim Calhoun (Northeastern, UConn, University of Saint Joseph) – 917 career wins

 If you combine the sustained success of both their men’s and women’s basketball programs, is it controversial to claim UConn as the most dominant NCAA basketball program in the sport’s history? The UConn men’s basketball squad has won the national title a total of five times—and three of those were under the stewardship of legendary head coach Jim Calhoun.

 12) Jim Foster (Saint Joseph’s, Vanderbilt, Ohio State, Chattanooga) – 903 career wins

Jim Foster served as the head coach of the women’s basketball team at Chattanooga from 2013 to 2018. Before that, he led the women’s basketball teams at St. Joseph’s, Vanderbilt, and Ohio State. Although his teams never took home a national championship, with 903 career wins, Foster cemented his legacy as one of the winningest college basketball coaches of all time.

13) Roy Williams (Kansas, North Carolina) – 903 career wins

 Roy Williams led the North Carolina Tar Heels men’s basketball team through some exciting years, battling bitter rival Duke under Coach K. Among Williams’ many achievements are three national titles—his UNC teams won it all in 2005, 2009, and 2017.

14) Bob Knight (Army, Indiana, Texas Tech) – 902 career wins

 Known for his outspoken and sometimes destructive, confrontational nature, Bob Knight is another icon—or maybe iconoclast?—of college basketball. As a head coach, Bob Knight’s Hoosiers won the national championship three times, in 1976, 1981, and 1987.

 Winningest College Basketball Coaches – cont’d

15) Jody Conradt (Sam Houston, UT Arlington, Texas) – 900

 16) Lisa Bluder (St. Ambrose, Drake, Iowa) – 880

 17) Dean Smith (North Carolina) – 879

 18) Adolph Rupp (Kentucky) – 876

 19) Tom Shirley (DeSales, Jefferson) – 876

 20) Joe Foley (Arkansas Tech, Little Rock) – 866

 21) Robin Selvig (Montana) – 865

 22) Andy Landers (Georgia) – 862

 23) Gary Blair (Stephen F. Austin, Arkansas, Texas A&M) – 852

 24) Curt Fredrickson (Northern State) – 846

 25) Jim Phelan (Mount St. Mary’s University) – 830

 Winningest College Basketball Coaches – cont’d

 26) Cliff Ellis (South Alabama, Clemson, Auburn, Coastal Carolina) – 828

 27) Wes Moore (Maryville, Francis Marion, Chattanooga, NC State) – 826

 28) Kevin Borseth (Michigan Tech, Michigan, Green Bay) – 818

 29) Rollie Massimino (Stony Brook, Villanova, UNLV, Cleveland State, Keiser) – 816

 30) Michael Strong (Scranton) – 815

 31) Eddie Sutton (College of Southern Idaho, Creighton, Arkansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma State) – 806

 32) Rick Byrd (Maryville, Lincoln Memorial, Belmont) – 805

 33) John Calipari (Massachusetts, Memphis, Kentucky) – 790

 34) Bill Self (Oral Roberts, Tulsa, Illinois, Kansas) – 787

All Time Winningest College Basketball Coaches – Additional Resources

We hope you enjoyed our piece on the college basketball coaches with the most wins. You may also enjoy the following relevant blogs: